Miz Moffatt's Reviews > Winter Town

Winter Town by Stephen Emond
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Jun 08, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: coming-of-age, light-novel, young-adult
Read in May, 2012

Full review posted on Across the Litoverse

Winter break arrives with its usual patterns—snow drifts form on sidewalks, coloured lights brighten the evening hours, and Evan's Dad starts building his elaborate, mechanized winter town throughout the house. Upcoming papers and parental pressures are bearing down on Evan, but his routine's rattled after receiving a single text message from his childhood friend who's back in town…

Lucy moved south with her mother following her parents' divorce, and the last year has fostered nothing but silence between the two best friends. This time, the girl next door has morphed into New Lucy—a sullen girl with a nose stud, cropped black hair, and a strange Goth aesthetic. Evan dedicates himself to coaxing Old Lucy back into the world, even if it means pissing her off in the process. The two re-enter their fantastical childhood world, Aelysthia, and spin out new jam strips (one-page collaborative comics) to communicate where conversation fails. Slowly, the duo rediscover one another and fall into familiar patterns—until Lucy kisses Evan. Then, childhood friendship becomes ever-so complicated…

I was thrilled to find a North American example of a light novel—a YA book that incorporates original artwork and other graphic embellishments. I'm familiar with the Japanese conventions behind the light novel (which works as a wordier manga), but Emond creates a lively, indie-inflected work for all us North American kids. In particular, I loved the moment where Evan and Lucy create their first jam strip since Lucy's return home—the two sit in a diner, struggling to hold a decent conversation, yet their creativity and their comic panels allow them to speak where words won't form.

I also loved Aelysthia, the fantastical world the two created during their childhood. Each chapter ends with a fictionalized account of both Evan's and Lucy's current struggles, reframed through the elaborate lens of Aelysthia. Evan's comics were an excellent addition to the book and made for a lovely, multi-media reading experience overall.

Winter Town offers the perfect read for teens facing the crossroads of adulthood, and for childhood friends fighting to make their bonds stronger than before.

Ideal for: Comic book kids and manga fans who'd like a text-ier reading experience; Readers enamoured with pop culture shout outs, or folks who'd like to discover some excellent bands and fantasy books; Anyone with a childhood best friend they'd love to reconnect with in the future.
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