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La Perdida

3.34  ·  Rating Details ·  1,735 Ratings  ·  272 Reviews
From the Harvey and Lulu award–winning creator of Artbabe comes this riveting story of a young woman’s misadventures in Mexico City. Carla, an American estranged from her Mexican father, heads to Mexico City to “find herself.” She crashes with a former fling, Harry, who has been drinking his way through the capital in the great tradition of his heroes, William S. Burroughs ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published May 20th 2008 by Pantheon (first published 2007)
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Jun 26, 2008 Lilian rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
When I first started to read La Perdida I really enjoyed it because I was excited to read a graphic novel about a young Mexican-American woman. I also enjoyed the author/artist Jessica Abel's sparsely drawn images of Mexico City landmarks (and Pilsen in Chicago).

Unfortunately, as the story progressed I started to become uncomfortable with the authors negative portrayal of Mexico City/Chilango youth culture. Raw honesty I appreciate, but the author painted a seedy world where you can't trust any
È la storia di una ragazza che parte per trovare se stessa e finisce quasi per perdersi.
Ma il finale è rassicurante.

Cerca di immergersi in un mondo che non conosce (Città del Messico): anche se di padre messicano, non comprende la lingua né ha mai visto prima il paese.
Si impegna per penetrare nella società e nella cultura locale, per diventarne parte, e non limitarsi a conoscerla.
Ma sbaglia approccio - oppure si tratta di un mondo che proprio non le appartiene, non è il suo.

Dec 13, 2007 carmie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pictorial
Should be called La Dumbass. The heroine(?) of this novel succeeded in irritating me with her idiocy and horrible choices as no one has since....Ann Coulter?

When the drug lord offers you a sample of cocaine, the wise choice is to LEAVE, not take it! Sigh.

I guess I could consider Jessica Abel successful because she created a character who inspired strong feelings in me, even if those feelings were mostly annoyance.
Feb 28, 2008 missy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: graphic-novels
I divide this book into two parts, even though it's not formally divided as such. There's such stylistic difference between them, it almost seems like there should be a formal divide. The first part of the book is a coming of age post-college, finding oneself while traveling, open-ended exposition. There's not much plot, just a lot of wondering around and talking to people. This isn't necessarily a bad thing -- I really enjoy those types of stories if they're done right. But what stopped me firs ...more
Apr 09, 2013 Osvaldo rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comics-related
I don't even recall how I stumbled across Jessica Abel's La Perdida—probably in doing research on Love & Rockets—but I'm glad I found it. While far from perfect, the first three-fifths of the graphic novel or so are wonderful, and while it kind of devolves into a melodramatic plot that unfortunately reeks of stereotypes of Mexico, overall it is still strongly characterized and well-drawn.

Carla, the protagonist may be a post-college naïve-as-hell gringita prone to willful ignorance and drunke
Jan 07, 2012 Sunil rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
Although it's not a memoir, La Perdida is based on the author's personal experience and is memoir-esque. On the surface, it sounds interesting: a half-Mexican woman goes to Mexico to get more in touch with her cultural heritage. It was pretty well regarded.


I wanted to give it up halfway through the second issue because I was so bored. I just didn't care about anything! All the characters were annoying, and nothing fucking happened. Each issue seemed to be nothing more than
I have to say, I was extremely lukewarm to this book. It seems like the kind of thing I would like, but overall I didn't see what all the hype was about. The entire plot rests on the main character being annoying, stupid, and so desperate to please her 'real Mexican' friends that she throws common sense out the window. By the end, you just want her to stop white guilt whining about how HARD it is to be privileged and to stop trying to win the favor of people who she can never win over. The endin ...more
Jeff Jackson
Feb 13, 2013 Jeff Jackson rated it liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
Great texture about life in Mexico City for a young American expat circa the dawn of email, reinforced by detailed and fluid drawing that's reminiscent of early Craig Thompson. What begins as a slice of life narrative turns increasingly macabre, largely without losing its balance. Although some of the emotional outbursts felt forced and a few plot pivots were predictable, I suspect this story of self-delusion disguised as a search for authenticity will stay with me for a while. 3.5 stars.
Jonathan Schildbach
This is more like a 3.5 for me, but I'm rounding up.

In some ways, I think the format of the graphic novel is somewhat limiting to the subject matter, since it involves issues of race and identity, and what it means to be of mixed ethnicity--which is some rather complicated stuff to convey with simple line drawings, dialog and occasional narrative.

The main character, Carla, has grown up in the U.S., always speaking English and only English, but moves to Mexico City and gets caught up in trying t
Nov 27, 2008 planet rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: graphic-novels
as a graphic novel, i think "La Perdida" is a total success, the way the awesome illustrations tell the story and are supported by the text. i picked it up and started reading and couldn't put it down. brilliant!

unfortunately, the story lacked the depth and analysis about certain issues (class privilege, racism, tokenism..) that would have made it great. the clueless main character annoyed the shit out of me by making horrible choices and basically just being a total idiot. the story offers grea
Mar 18, 2013 Kevin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
More than anything a coming of age graphic novel where the young person is not only the narrator but their identity and that of a county lurching into the 21st century. The narrative trips over itself a few times and the dialogue can feel a little set-upy instead of natural. But make no mistake. La Perdida is a huge-friggin achievement, amazingly drawn, so sure of its setting in Mexico City and place in time (late 90s) that it feels as much a diary or historical document. Or just a conversation ...more
Renee Alberts
Oct 30, 2007 Renee Alberts rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Jessica Abel’s sizeable fictional travelogue La Perdida is the annotated postcard of the protagonist Carla’s visit to Mexico to find herself. As she navigates relationships and challenges, from disagreements with her wealthy ex-boyfriend expatriate, Harry to the difficulties of learning an unfamiliar culture, she also journeys through delusion, self-discovery and accountability.

While Carla is not always likeable, Abel’s skillfully expressive bold-line drawings and revealing dialogue keep the rea
Jun 12, 2007 Sotoleon rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like identity-search type novels
Jessica Abel’s _La Perdida_ tells the story of Carla, an anglo-mexican U.S. citizen, who in an aimless sojourn in Mexico city falls into various situations and encounters a variety of people, all of which challenge her custom-made American identity. After a brief period of successfully (or so she thinks) acculturating to not only her local community (which include Marxist revolutionaries, drug dealers, and ESL students) but to Mexican society at large, an international incident occurs which ulti ...more
Leídas unas cuantas reseñas aquí, voy a acabar escribiendo sobre algo en lo que no pensaba mientras leía el libro*. Las dos principales objecciones que recibe son el argumento rocambolesco de la segunda parte (estoy de acuerdo) y lo mal que cae la protagonista -es decir, que es difícil identificarse con ella- a lo cual me sale del alma contestar un simple "y qué", no sé si con interrogación o exclamación o ambos.
Carla cae fatal. (Carla se da un aire a Holden Caulfield.) Es una mujer mexicano-ame
Nov 11, 2013 April rated it liked it
Shelves: comics
Okay, so this comic has had a lot of attention and it really is very well done. Jessica Abel really captures the nuances of travel - you want to have an authentic experience but as a foreigner, you can never truly experience a country like someone native; while you may be welcomed in a country, you will not necessarily ever seen as anything more than a tourist; the fellowship of other travelers can be both comforting and dis-assimilating at the same time; and yet there is something totally thril ...more
Laura Pamplona
Dec 27, 2013 Laura Pamplona rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book is part of my 2016 resolution to read all the books on my shelf that have not been read to this date.

I DID NOT enjoy this book at all. It took me 10 pages to know that Carla was the most naive Mexican-american in the world. This book portrays the Mexican culture as one of low-life people who are selfish and do not care for anything in the world besides themselves. While I do agree that Gringos are treated it different in Latin cultures, I have to disagree in the way Carla was treated..
Stewart Tame
Aug 13, 2015 Stewart Tame rated it really liked it
This might, at first glance, be mistaken for autobiography. It feels very natural. A young woman, Carla, travels to Mexico City to, well, find herself, as the saying goes. She stays with an old boyfriend, who is tolerant at first, until he realizes that she has no intention of leaving. Her relationships with the ex-boyfriend, Harry, and her new friends in Mexico City slowly play out over the course of this book. Some of Carla's choices turn out to not be very smart, and it's the playing out of t ...more
Nov 30, 2015 Alina rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I really love the concept of this book, and I thoroughly enjoyed the first 1/3 of the book, which was 50% in Spanish. It was disappointing when it switched to 100% English. I wish the author would have stuck with the 50% English/50% Spanish model, which made the book really unique.

I also enjoyed the story at the beginning, but it drastically switched gears in the last half of the book, and turned into a depressing chronicle of drug abuse and dysfunctional relationships. This book really wasn't e
Anastasia Zamkinos
This is a nicely done graphic novel in a lot of ways and I enjoyed reading it, but it felt like binging on something that I KNOW is bad for me; while I enjoyed the artistic style and much of the characterization of the protagonist (American Latina gone to Mexico to find her roots), the Mexican culture depicted in its pages felt, especially later in the text, one sided and essentializing (even with the occasional in-character disclaimer). Written by an author not herself Mexican... This felt unco ...more
Love, love, love. Her gorgeous, messy, cluttered panels somewhat remind me of Blankets in the best way possible. I feel like if I could settle down and live inside a graphic novel, really inhabit the mind/world of one of these authors, this is the type I'd feel comfortable within. I'd fit in here.

Oct 05, 2011 Oriana rated it liked it
Shoot, here's another Jugs & Capes book that I never reviewed. This was #18, and I didn't really love it. The drawing was great, and the setting was very immersive, but I think I remember the plot being fairly predictable, and the main character being kind of waif-y and spineless and hard to root for.

But it's been awhile since I read it, so I might be way off base.
Dec 05, 2007 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comics
I loved the art and the way the story developed. I was expecting it to be more of a meandering autobiography a la "Blankets" (which I also really liked), but appreciated the way the strands of the plot came together.
Jun 21, 2011 Kathleen rated it really liked it
only half way through but gonna make my notes right now.

I am so absorbed and impressed with this book! Probably not least because it so well reflects my own experience with living abroad (probably going to create some kind of collection for books I've read that are about the expat experience... I am increasingly in awe at how many similarities there are across the different accounts of young people going to live in another country-- the mistakes and travails and joys-- honestly I think everyone
Oct 07, 2016 Jeff rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I frequently had trouble understanding the images in the first volume of Scalped (a totally different kind of comic book), and i experienced similar (but much less frequent) visual confusions in this book, most vexingly during a key moment at the end when Carla seems to be doodling on a notepad while in the car with Oscar (pp 232-234 in the edition i read). In Scalped, i typically couldn't decipher the images because the illustrations changed their point of view willy-nilly like the worst kind o ...more
Dan Bernier
Jan 19, 2017 Dan Bernier rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2017
3.49 stars - almost, but not quite, enough to round up. Overall, I liked it.

It's a frustrating story, with a frustrating protagonist, but that's besides the point. The story asks a lot of questions about cultural appropriation, and whether it's possible to discard privilege. I wish it could've asked them more forcefully, more clearly.

The art was alright. The focus was on the story, not the art, but there were times where the art hindered instead of helped. There was never a panel I lingered on.
Mara González
Nov 05, 2016 Mara González rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cómics
Amazing story around cultural mediated relations and the search for one self. It holds and intriguing plot whose suspense grows more and more with each page. Graphics are super expressive, the author configures scenes as if it was a movie.
Cristina Broquetas
Brilliant! Great characters. Builds up in an amazing narrative crescendo.
David Karp
Apr 11, 2012 David Karp rated it it was amazing
Jessica Abel’s graphic novel, La Perdida, follows the adventure of Carla, a Mexican American, and her move to Mexico City to learn more about herself and her identity. She crashes with her ex-boyfriend, Harry, who is following the steps of the likes of William S. Burroughs and Jack Kerouac and crashing in the city, struggling to find inspiration for his writing. Disenchanted by each other, they come to an inevitable clash and Carla goes to join her new friends, natives Memo, Oscar, and others. ...more
Explores issues of identity for a young woman trying to discover and reclaim her Mexican heritage after deciding to move to Mexico City in 1999. If only it were that easy, as this novel explores. As the main character relates her struggles in relationships, finding a supportive environment, and succumbing to her own naivete, she learns hard lessons about trusting others and herself. Also challenges the machismo she faces in a relationship. A very interesting read, I personally have never seen th ...more
Dec 28, 2016 Loquacious rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: higher, comics, own
A good book about terrible people. Art is lovely but the book is hard to read because the protagonist is a mean-spirited, inflammatory person and so are the people she chooses to be around.

That being said, I disagree with other reviews that see Abel's portrayal of Mexico and Mexicans as solely untrustworthy and seedy. There are good Mexicans and good Americans in this book, as well as a beautiful and immersive city, but the protagonist pushes most of them away in favor of red-flag men.

I h
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Cartoonist and writer Jessica Abel is the author of the graphic novel La Perdida (Pantheon Books) as well as two textbooks about making comics, Drawing Words & Writing Pictures and Mastering Comics (First Second Books), written in collaboration with her husband, the cartoonist Matt Madden. She's also the co-writer of the graphic novel Life Sucks.
Previously, she published Soundtrack and Mirror
More about Jessica Abel...

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