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In Waves

4.40  ·  Rating details ·  811 ratings  ·  167 reviews
In this graphic novel, surfer and illustrator AJ Dungo remembers his late partner and the shared love of surfing that endured throughout their time together.

Dungo explores the beauty and complexity of his relationship with his partner as they face her prolonged battle with cancer. With his passion for surfing uniting many narratives, he intertwines his own story with those
Hardcover, 376 pages
Published June 4th 2019 by Nobrow
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Average rating 4.40  · 
Rating details
 ·  811 ratings  ·  167 reviews

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David Schaafsma
A large graphic novel by AJ Dungo that blends a historical reflection about surfing with a memoir about his love, Kristen, whom we learn almost from the very first has cancer. The history of surfing parts seem initially (and mostly throughout) rather disconnected and in a rather different tone from the more personal sections about Kristen and their friends, who all spent a lot of time (and joy) surfing, as a kind of joyful, almost spiritual practice. The history part, focused on two icons of ...more
Nov 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Surfers have always found solace in the waves . . . " -- page 10

Quietly educational yet also equally sincere and heartfelt, this combination historical graphic novel / memoir recalls the beginnings of surfing in popular culture and also details the loss of a loved one. Using just a turquoise and burnt sienna color palette along with his unique illustration style, author Dungo briefly retells the origin of the sport via its birthplace in the Polynesian culture hundreds of years ago. He then
Rod Brown
The structure of this graphic memoir gave it a detached air that kept me from fully engaging with it. The author alternates moments from his relationship with a young woman who has cancer with biographical sketches of surfing legends Duke Kahanamoku and Tom Blake. The history bits are fairly straightforward if a bit dull due to the pacing, but the relationship parts aren't in chronological order, which usually doesn't bother me, but somehow detracted here, leaving me more confused than curious ...more
Dec 31, 2019 rated it liked it
Simply drawn in muted shades of blue and peach, Dungo portrays the history of surfing and surfboards and his love and loss of Kirsten. The waves embrace and release his sorrow.
Elizabeth A
Jan 25, 2020 rated it liked it
This graphic memoir alternates between the personal and the historical. In the memoir section, the author outlines his relationship with his partner as she battles cancer. Intertwined with their personal story are sections about the history of surfing.

This book is clearly something he promised his partner he would write, and it is a lovely ode to her. However, I, the reader, was kept at a distance during the personal sections - these people seemed too remote for me to connect with in the
I was so glad no one was in the back office while I was eating my lunch at work and reading this one. I had pulled it aside when we ordered it, then put it back, and then saw that it was an Alex award winner and pulled it back out to read. And then in a flash I'm dabbing my eyes because it's an EMOTIONAL book: the storytelling, artistic approach with the dual stories in complimentary color schemes, and the actual memoir is moving. Readers can tell Dungo poured his heart and soul into it and then ...more
Dungo's simple yet beautiful artwork weaves two stories together - the history of surfing and his personal story of losing his girlfriend to cancer. Even with its sparse text and minimal color palette, this story is overflowing with emotions. A very quick read, but something that will stay with you for awhile afterwards.
Dec 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: graphic, memoir
The illustrator/author here, looks back on his relationship with his partner, who is dying of cancer and then shares his love of surfing, while also exploring the history of surfing and at it's various heroes. I heard it described as a mash-up of Blankets meets Barbarian Days, which pretty much sums it up. A nice surprise and you may also shed a tear or two.
Jun 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is just beautiful. The art is gorgeous and it alternates memoir with history. Once I picked it up, I couldn't put it down and read it all in one sitting. Highly recommended!
gorgeous art and a beautiful story. I really liked how the author wove his own personal story of grief with the history of surfing. If you think these two story lines don't fit together, see page 137. Beautifully told and well-executed, with a high quality production of the from the publisher.
Easily one of the best graphic novels/comics I’ve read. A meditation on both surfing and its history, and illness and love.
Jul 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read in one sitting, maybe took an hour. But while I was with this book for a short amount of time, I did have to restrain some ~tears~ while reading in a public park.. woops. It is clear that this book got to me, and while I loved the story—a blend of memoir and history—sometimes there were anatomical inaccuracies in the figures that really brought me out of the story. I sometimes paused and stared at a figure just because its leg was drawn oddly, or because their body looked so bizarre. While ...more
Jan 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
“It comes in waves.”

I knew from the first time I read about this book last year that it would be one I would love and really be moved by. This book is so melodic, melancholic, but still hopeful. I could hear the sounds of the waves and hear the sound of water rush around me as I read each page. I could feel the pull of grief and heartache with every change of pace; Back in time between the history of man and ocean. Of surfer and sea. Of memories. New love. Lost love. And lives changed.

If you
I struggled a bit with all of the back and forth. The historical bits were easier for me to follow because they made sense and were in chronological order. The bits with Kristen were a bit harder to get into because the story jumps back and forth between various years. It took me a while to really get into the characters, so it didn't have the emotional impact I thought it would, and I was left with a lot of questions.
Jan 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Wow this book really hit hard. The storyline and the history of surfing ties together really well in this book. I thought both were interesting to read about. I also really liked the artwork. I think it brought the story out and told something with the color palette and the style of drawing. The simplistic set up of the story adds something that I really like. I highly recommend this book. It was very eye opening.
A beautiful graphic novel. Part memoir of the intense young love with another who dies too young from cancer, contrasted and interspersed with a biographical story of two American surfing legends.
The limited colour palette is perfectly rendered and adds a strength to the story.
Very impressive.
Sep 22, 2019 rated it liked it
Kinda like the beach boys in the story, heavy in style and light on substance. Kristen was less of a character and more of a vehicle for AJ to discover himself, same with the Hawaiian history of surfing and the antisocial surfboard inventor.
Ian Lagradilla
Jun 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely beautiful. Will edit soon because.
Sarah Rusch
Jan 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
A wonderful Christmas present from my sister! Breathtaking drawings using a minimalist color palette that really capture the mood. Heartbreaking story of love & loss with bonus history lesson that provides a little solace.
Jan 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I literally could not say enough about this. I read it in an hour and it is one of the most beautiful things I have read in years. This story tells the history of surfing and the history of A.J. and the love of his life Kristen and she battles cancer. This is art, poetry, and truth. Read it.
Erica Hinders
Jan 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was so much more heartbreaking than I thought it would be. I hadn’t read the summary in awhile before reading it.

Beautifully done.
Hannah Collins
Jul 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
Great book for folks dealing with grief.
Dec 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Ian Hrabe
Dec 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A stunning, astonishingly beautiful, and heartbreaking graphic novel memoir of love, loss, and surfing. Easily the most breathtaking debut since Craig Thompson's Blankets. This is an elegant and absolutely perfect book. I could keep saying wonderful things about A.J. Dungo's clear and precise writing and masterful illustrations but that would not do it justice.
Jun 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved the art and narrative style of the book. Blending history with personal loss prevented the book from getting too heavy.
Matt Glaviano
Jul 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels, 2019
Picked up pretty randomly. A decent graphic overview of the history and cultural importance of surfing, coupled with a pretty searing memoir about loss. A late night/early next morning read. Ultimately, I liked the graphics, learned something new, and was moved by the author's loss. That's a lot for a quick read.
Makenzie Rivera
Dec 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 01, 2020 rated it liked it
I am reading through the 2020 Alex Award Books and this is on the list. Never a huge fan of graphic novels, once I start one I do tend to read it straight through in one sitting and understand the genre's popularity. The Margaret Edwards Alexander (Alex) Award is for best adult books (from the previous year) with appeal for young adults. Since I started reading these for my work, I've never stopped reading at least some of the books from this list. I liked the wave illustrations in "In Waves," ...more
Madeline Jefferies
I found this book in the most recent BookPage and was intrigued by the interview with AJ Dungo. His answers were short but direct, and when I saw the high ratings for this book, I knew I had to read it. I love graphic novels and love even more when graphic novels defy the "just a comic book" stereotype. I expected a cool story about surfing and friendship, but what I didn't expect was the severe impact it had on me.
As someone who has recently lost a very close friend, this book hit a whole
Harry Brake
Oct 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There a few things as calming to me than the water. Moving to the east coast of Delaware, things did slow down and despite the summer traffic that involves many out of staters who will wait in traffic and drive for hours for that weekend piece of the beach, there is a magnetic attraction.

AJ Dungo's In Waves has the same power, attraction, and deep history of surfing, waves, and how these can soothe the calamities of fighting cancer, surviving through fighting and loss. This comes at a time where
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AJ Dungo was born in Fort Myers, Florida. He then moved to Toronto, then settled in Los Angeles where he attended Art Center in Pasadena. When he’s not making comics he works as an illustrator and designer. And when he’s not working on anything, he’s working on his cutbacks on his surfboard and slappies on his skateboard.
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