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Are You Listening?

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Bea is on the run. And then, she runs into Lou.

This chance encounter sends them on a journey through West Texas, where strange things follow them wherever they go. The landscape morphs into an unsettling world, a mysterious cat joins them, and they are haunted by a group of threatening men. To stay safe, Bea and Lou must trust each other as they are driven to confront buried truths. The two women share their stories of loss and heartbreak—and a startling revelation about sexual assault—culminating in an exquisite example of human connection.

320 pages, Paperback

First published September 10, 2019

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About the author

Tillie Walden

32 books2,584 followers
Tillie Walden is a cartoonist and illustrator from Austin, Texas. Born in 1996, she is a recent graduate from the Center for Cartoon Studies, a comics school in Vermont. Over the course of her time at CCS she published three books with the London based Avery Hill Publishing. She has already received an Eisner Award nomination and two Ignatz Awards for her early works. When she is not drawing comics, Tillie can be found walking and listening to audiobooks or asleep with a cat. She also enjoys studying architecture and tries to incorporate that passion into her comics. Spinning is her first long form autobiographical work.

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5 stars
3,962 (28%)
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3 stars
3,864 (27%)
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150 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,098 reviews
Profile Image for Chelsea (chelseadolling reads).
1,478 reviews19.2k followers
September 26, 2019
This book will always have a super special place in my heart because I read the entire thing from start to finish at Disneyland <3

TW: sexual assault, death of a parent
Profile Image for emma.
1,822 reviews48.1k followers
July 16, 2019
the biggest problem i have with graphic novels is always that i never FEEL ANYTHING. there's so little to them. they're like a meringue, and honestly, who likes meringues anyway?

but i digress.

at the best of times, a graphic novel tends to feel incomplete. this is only truer if that graphic novel contains two separate character arcs, plus a handful of very thorny and complex social issues, plus a near-inexplicable introduction of some very complicated magical realism.

basically what i'm saying is that i was incapable of feeling much of anything for these characters, because they never once felt developed to me, and also i had no goddamn idea what was going on for approximately a third of this book.

and tragically, neither the fact that it's quite lengthy for a graphic novel or that the art is very very pretty was enough to change that.

bottom line: no thank you. except to the art! to that i say yes thank you.


you had me at "lgbtq+ magical realism graphic novel with gorgeous illustrations and also it's a road trip"

(thanks to first second for the ARC)
Profile Image for s.penkevich.
851 reviews5,827 followers
August 2, 2021
But here, everything is listening.

There is a magic that flows through the works of young graphic novelist superstar Tillie Walden that always keeps me returning to her works, even if just to get lost in the incandescent beauty of her art. Are You Listening?, Walden’s third full-length graphic novel and winner of the 2020 Eisner Award, showcases some her most astounding artwork yet with big, bold color and dynamic energy. The story follows two strangers, Lou and teenage Bea, both running from something who team up on the road across West Texas despite frustration with each other. As they slowly open up to one another and learn that shared empathy can ease the pain of trauma they find themselves caught up in supernatural drama pursued by two mysterious men who will stop at nothing to capture a stray cat the unlikely pair have picked up. While the pacing is a bit uneven and the two storylines never quite mesh, this is still a magical tale of human connection and friendship amidst a world full of pain delivered in such extraordinary art it will take your breath away.

This is easily Walden’s finest artistic endeavour yet. Walden’s color palettes—mostly consisting of yellows, oranges, reds and purples on black backgrounds—set an incredibly dreamlike tone that depicts the world around the characters as quietly threatening. The art is much looser that her earlier, more architecturally focused work, and gives a very fluid and energetic quality to the work. She excels at capturing action, with many quick frames per page during dramatic scenes that seemingly overflow into one another and the more surreal moments capture dream logic with each frame practically interjecting itself onto the one before it. This is a masterpiece of art and it is wonderful to have watched Walden perfect her craft and experiment into new territories that all seems to come together to perfection here. This book is worth picking up for the art alone.

The story is rather sad, as is to be expected with Walden, yet it is also very hopeful. Walden has a knack for pulling heartstrings like conducting an grand orchestra and this story is certainly moving. Teenage runaway Bea runs into twenty-something Lou on the road, with the older woman deciding to look after the younger girl. Bea is rather guarded and caustic but as the two travel they slowly reveal more about themselves to each other, forming a really beautiful bond by the end of the book despite their many frequent arguments. Their past traumas come to light and the two find that their emotional load is best carried together than alone. Unlike earlier stories, romance never really enters the picture and this is a lovely tale of queer friendship.

Slowly building in the background of the story is a mysterious cat that Bea takes in. Two men, always smoking and claiming to be from the Office of Road Inquiry, seem to have a supernatural ability to pursue the two women, always appearing lurking and alarming in the dark. The story takes a magical twist with the cat able to reshape reality around it, though the story surrounding this is rather vague and feels a bit half-baked. It is quite fun, but it also never quite fully blends with the more engaging dialogue-driven storyline of Bea and Lou. While On a Sunbeam let the story breath with a longer length that helped balance out all the elements, this one feel rushed at times (particularly the cat plotline) and a bit more length would be nice. I do enjoy how Walden often leaves elements unexplained, yet here it seems to suffer not from lack of explanation but under-investment in each element. The story ends feeling like it is still reaching for more, which I personally enjoy but what came before it could have been further developed for better emphasis.

That said, this is still an extremely impressive work and the art makes it feel fully worth the ride. Heartbreakingly beautiful as always, Walden is one of the best graphic novelists working today, though I would encourage first time readers to start with On a Sunbeam (my absolute favorite) or perhaps Spinning first. I definitely wouldn’t consider this a stumble despite being a bit underwhelmed, more like a jumpy redirection towards a grander horizon.

Profile Image for Dave Schaafsma.
Author 6 books31.3k followers
October 9, 2019
Not much ever really happens in Tillie Walden books, but I haven't really much cared, for the most part. She's a very young and remarkably prolific artist/author who writes mainly about spacious and gorgeously pastel watercolored queer worlds, generally as few males as possible, and all the women/girls are halting, reticent, edging toward each other in desire. It's not wild women, never raucous hilarious women, it's tortured, private women.

This one is a little different in some respects; she's trying some new things. This is a road trip, involving an escape to West Texas for Lou, 27, and Bea, a teen, who have both suffered grief/trauma (one survives sexual assault, revealed right there in the publisher jacket description). That's already a difference, in that is a remarkable set of dramatic revelations not typical for Walden. Otherwise it feels familiar as a Walden story, aimless, they have no real destination in their travel; the point is in the mundane title, that they--in spite of regularly sniping at each other--finally listen to each other's stories and support each other.

Another difference: there's no explicit desire between the girl and the woman; they just befriend each other, so that seems rare in these early Walden works.

So that's exactly what it sounds like: Pretty straightforward and unremarkable storytelling, though it's cartooned with such subtlety and grace and quiet flair you really just have to keep reading/viewing.

They also pick up a lost cat along the way that would seem to possess some magical properties, which come in handy as they are pursued by a couple of ominous High Way Control guys. Not sure why any of that stuff needed to be in here, but one of Walden's stories is sci-fi, taking place in a crumbling school floating in space, but these elements didn't really seem integral to the plot. They just add some magic (the cat) and suspense (the creepy guys). That there are as many guys in this story as there are is also different for Walden. The space novel had zero guys in it. And there's also very little atmospheric architecture in this one; Walden loves to draw cool large buildings and this has only one, a large abandoned building with a pool in it, for some reason. Feels dream-like, serves no real purpose in the narrative except for them to take a break from their travels and swim in it.

I think the mundane friendship story mashed with the peripheral suspense/magic genre elements make this a 3 star story for me, but I don't seem to be able to give Walden less than five stars for her illustration work, so I'm still up to 4 stars for this one. You just have to pick one up even just to look at it.
Profile Image for Thomas.
1,457 reviews8,560 followers
December 12, 2019
A sorrowful and hopeful graphic novel that follows two women on a road trip through West Texas, both struggling to process and move past their respective traumas and grief. Not much happens in this story plot-wise, which gives space for Bea and Lou’s quiet and caring interactions to take center stage. Their friendship felt like the softly shining center of Are You Listening?, how they learn to trust one another despite their painful pasts and their stress on the trip. At its strongest, Are You Listening? serves as a poignant exemplar of the power of sharing your heart with another person, no matter how shameful or scary that sharing may feel. The artwork adds an element of eeriness and beauty to the story.

By the end of the book I found myself wanting more: a little more depth in Bea and Lou’s friendship, a little more backstory, a little more processing of their experiences. Yet I so appreciate Are You Listening? for what it does offer, and I applaud Tillie Walden’s sensitive handling of a plotline related to sexual assault. Looking forward to reading more of Walden’s work in the future and I feel grateful for a graphic novel that highlights the healing capacity of friendship, an undervalued form of relationship in contemporary society.
Profile Image for April (Aprilius Maximus).
1,092 reviews6,579 followers
March 29, 2020
“Everyone, everything has potential for magic. You just gotta be standing somewhere in the world and in the body that lets you see it.”

representation: lesbian MC's, MC of colour.

[trigger warnings are listed at the bottom of this review and may contain spoilers]

omg i loved this sooooo much. Two deeply hurt characters coming together to help get a magical cat home and taking steps towards healing along the way. perfection.

trigger warnings: loss of loved ones (in the past), panic attacks, creepy dudes bein creepy, rape (in the past), pet being hurt.
Profile Image for solanne.
196 reviews477 followers
January 23, 2021
while tillie walden’s illustrations remain as beautiful as ever, i found it difficult to feel much of anything as i read this; ultimately, this story tried to jungle too many themes at once and couldn’t manage to keep itself afloat.

i have, however, enjoyed other works from this author so if you’re looking for a beautiful graphic novel featuring found family and tender sapphics i would highly recommend walden's On A Sunbeam <3

— representation: sapphic mcs
— content warnings: mention of rape, loss of loved ones, panic attacks
Profile Image for Ideas are bulletproof .
106 reviews61 followers
October 17, 2021
An absolutely heart breaking and appealing graphic novel!

This tells the story of two girls and a long car drive accompanied by a peculiar cat. Lou is visiting her family and Bea has run away from home for reasons unknown…they both meet and decide to go on a road trip that could possibly make them go through all sorts of hazardous deeds and vicious people.
On the way, they talk about their life and all the unsettling things either of them had to go through long ago as a kid. They talked about how helpless they felt back then and how they never fought back…

On the whole, I definitely recommend this book! The illustrations were magnificent and the storyline didn’t bore me one bit!
Profile Image for Reading_ Tamishly.
4,292 reviews2,288 followers
December 22, 2020
Out of the three parts, I read the first part. The illustration at the beginning was so amazing. However,the storyline is a bit boring and I really dislike one of the main characters. She sucked out all the positivity out of me. I feel sorry for the other main character. Not going to read the rest.
Profile Image for fer.
481 reviews84 followers
June 14, 2021

É um quadrinho tão bonito visualmente e muito sensível. A arte da tillie walden como sempre PERFEITAAAA!! A paleta de cores desse me lembrou bastante On a Sunbeam da autora.

Mas cuidado gente, tem vários gatilhos nessa hq!! A história é contada de forma muito sensível mas mesmo assim dá aquela sensação ruim de gatilho. E tem umas partes meio que de realismo magico (eu acho) que são meio creepy.
Profile Image for Maia.
Author 7 books2,250 followers
December 31, 2019
Tillie Walden is one of the most talented comic artists of our generation. However, this is not my favorite of her books. I'd recommend On A Sunbeam and Spinning before this one- both of those books knocked my socks off. This one isn't bad, but I was frustrated by how similar the two main characters were, both in looks and in personality, and by how the surrealist/sci-fi elements of the story were never fully explained. In essence, do go read Tillie Walden; but don't read this one first.
Profile Image for Lea (drumsofautumn).
619 reviews627 followers
September 10, 2019

“You told me. You told me. That's fighting.”

This was so, so intense. I didn't know that this had fabulist elements in it, so I was a little bit caught off guard by that but this was so powerful and well done.

I read an ARC, so I don't know how this is gonna look fully coloured but the first couple of pages were already so promising and in general the art is absolutely beautiful. I could imagine that I'd give this five stars if I reread a finished copy!

Trigger warnings for rape.

Booktube ChannelTwitterInstagram

This was gifted to me by the wonderful Melanie 💜💜
Profile Image for ivy francis.
548 reviews27 followers
September 30, 2019
Full review: https://bookpeopleteens.wordpress.com...

“But here, everything is listening. The road, the cloud, the trees… they know all your secrets. Everything you’ve seen is built by you. Which is why you’ll never see it again.”

Are You Listening? is a beautiful piece of magical realism, with enough mystery and heart to make it refreshingly profound as well as easily re-readable. I’d not only recommend it to fans of Walden’s previous work, but also to anyone looking for one of the most original graphic novels I’ve read in a long time.

For fans of: Texas, Road Trips, Ridiculous Talent
Profile Image for Mon.
248 reviews218 followers
July 29, 2021
Dos estrellas menos porque algunas acciones de las protagonistas no tenían sentido, de hecho, casi nada lo tenía. Si bien logré entender el significado detrás de los recuerdos «random» y los diálogos que en una primera impresión parecen tontos, faltó profundidad para tratar un tema tan fuerte.

Rescato el dibujo, que es muy bonito, y la capacidad de, como ya dije, hacer que diálogos que en un principio parecen tontos cobren sentido una vez que entiendes porqué ambas chicas están donde están.
Profile Image for Mir.
4,862 reviews5,006 followers
January 14, 2020
While they were all well executed, I didn't feel that the separate strands (the two travelers fleeing their individual woes; the cat; the pursuers) meshed very well. The shift from magical realism to surrealism and back was a bit odd.

This might work better for a reader who has any associations with West Texas or is familiar with the landscape, but I have nothing beside a couple old country songs that make me think I never want to visit. This book certainly didn't change that opinion.

I didn't find either the art or the story as interesting as my previous read by this author, On a Sunbeam.
Profile Image for ash | spaceyreads.
346 reviews204 followers
January 6, 2020
Are You Listening is a graphic novel about a magic, surreal road trip with two LGBTQIA characters. Cushioned against a backdrop of winding roads is the budding friendship between Lou and Bea, an adult woman and a young teen, both running away from past trauma of their own. Fresh from their own wounds, Lou and Bea's interactions show the tenderness that trauma leaves you with, and how it feels like to hold it, give it space, and share that with someone who cares.

I love the symbolism of the magical realism plot and how it parallels the journey of coming to terms with your trauma. It a beautiful metaphor and it flows with Bea and Lou's journey. As they run further from their hurt, the roads seem to stretch on forever and they got lost. And more comes when they have to confront it, and eventually, find ways to seek comfort and solace.

"Are you listening? None of this is your fault."

I feel that Walden could have delved more into talking about the trauma, and exploring more in depth the complex feelings and ways of coping Lou and Bea may have tried. Perhaps it was her intention to leave it lightly touched on. That Lou and Bea opened up tentatively and without saying too much to each other is definitely much closer to reality than the narrative that you have to pour it all out.

Overall it was beautiful, touching, and helped me through some bad times of my own. Stories like these make me feel less alone.
Profile Image for Rod Brown.
5,280 reviews174 followers
September 29, 2019
A road trip across Texas for two women, each running from her own trauma, ravels into a vague supernatural odyssey that I didn't entirely follow but could not stop reading or caring about.
Profile Image for Mangrii.
866 reviews243 followers
May 27, 2021
Probablemente una de las voces más interesantes e importantes de los últimos años en el comic independiente americano sea Tillie Walden. Ya no solo por la cantidad de premios y nominaciones que acumula en cada una de sus publicaciones, si no por que sus propuestas son siempre de lo más experimentales y diferentes a lo habitual. Por supuesto, ¿Me estás escuchando? no es una excepción a la regla. Walden parece haber fusionado el intimismo envolvente de Piruetas con la fantasía de En un rayo de sol 1 para crear una historia de puro realismo mágico, donde sueño y realidad se difuminan sin fronteras en un relato profundo y misterioso de crecimiento personal.

¿Me estás escuchando? es un road trip por el lejano Texas. Es el viaje de Lou, una mecánica de 27 años que lidia con la prematura muerte de su madre y viaja sola para encontrarse con su tía. También, es el viaje de Bea, una joven de 18 años que huye de su hogar. Ambas, que terminan viajando juntas por las desiertas carreteras sureñas, desnudan sus almas la una a la otra mientras tras encontrar un gato perdido, su viaje comienza a volverse más y más extraño. Unos siniestros trabajadores, presuntos de una supuesta Oficina de Asistencia en Carreteras, las persiguen.

Aunque Tillie Walden continúa creciendo como autora con cada obra, dos de los temas que marcan todas sus obras son el trauma y la complicada búsqueda de la identidad sexual. Quizá ¿Me estas escuchando? plantee una historia más onírica en términos generales, repleta de simbolismos y sueños. Sin embargo, es una clara metáfora que desnuda los sentimientos y traumas de sus dos protagonistas, que vagan, al igual que todos nosotros, en busca de un futuro que no figura en los mapas. Un camino que ellas mismas deben crear. Dos protagonistas que parecen ser reflejos de la propia autora en distintas etapas de su vida: de adolescente, como vimos en Piruetas, en conflicto tanto con su entorno como consigo misma por miedo al rechazo; o de adulta, donde se acepta por completo, en una época de plenitud laboral pero donde puede sentir que le falta algo más.

Una vez más, el arte de Tillie Walden sigue siendo algo único. Con su habitual estilo limpio y sus peculiares composiciones de pagina, consigue una vez más transmitir al lector todo el contexto y sentimientos que pretende. Walden aboga una vez más por la introspección y nos sume en un reflexivo viaje por carretera donde a veces lo silencios dicen mucho más que cualquier dialogo, pero que también, se ve trastocado por pequeñas escenas de tensión y suspense. El arma mágica de este relato onírico lo pone el color, de una importancia vital aquí, variando entre tonalidades naranjas y morada en mayor porcentaje. Impactante y cautivador, ¿Me estás escuchando? es de nuevo puro arte visual.

Reseña en el blog: https://boywithletters.blogspot.com/2...
Profile Image for Jay G.
1,229 reviews464 followers
July 2, 2019
Want to see more bookish things from me? Check out my youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfer...

*I received a copy of this from the publisher in exchange for my honest review*

After running away from home, Bea runs into Lou. They set off on a road trip to West Texas. As the two get to know each other, emotional information is brought to light, Lou tries to be the mentor Bea never had.

This was... interesting. Half the time I was a bit confused on what was actually going on. At one point I think there was a magical cat? I liked the mix of coloured and black and white panels, I think it worked well for the atmosphere of the graphic novel. I liked Bea and Lou as characters and how they each leaned on each other in their time of need.
Profile Image for Emma.
911 reviews869 followers
April 15, 2021
Bea and Lou are both on the run from something in a way. And I really appreciated the fact that they had each other to lean on. It's clear the two of them needed someone that they could talk to and that would listen to what they had to say.
I must say I really wasn't a fan of the magical realism part of this graphic novel, I felt like it was unnecessary. Also, I expected something different from the ending.
Profile Image for Molly.
1,202 reviews52 followers
May 22, 2019
Tillie Walden just gets better and better with every book. She manages to combine painful explorations of emotion and identity with fantasy elements in a way that no one else does.
Profile Image for Elizabeth A.
1,823 reviews107 followers
October 24, 2019
This is the third graphic novel I've read by this author, and I think this is her best one yet. It's essentially a road trip novel, albeit a fairly short one with supernatural elements.

This is the story of two women, one older, one younger, who are both running away from home. They meet up and the developing relationship is a delight to watch unfold. Both women are queer, and I so liked that the story did not follow predictable plot lines. I was rather confused by the supernatural overlay, but that cat was really cool. The art is lovely and wonderfully evokes the moody and somewhat surreal landscapes the travelers pass through. It's always a delight when you see an author start to hit her stride, and I look forward to seeing what she creates next.
Profile Image for Althea.
421 reviews142 followers
June 18, 2021
3.5/5 Stars

I think this might be my least favourite of Tillie Walden's graphic novels that I've read so far, mainly because I just didn't feel as connected to this one as nothing felt like it was fully explored enough. I loved the magical realism aspects but we got pretty much zero explanations, though I did appreciate the discussions on sexual assault and grief and I think they were done pretty well. This wasn't a bad read, overall, I just think I might benefit from a re-read!

Want more sapphic books? You can find me here: Book Blog | Twitter | Instagram
Profile Image for v..
118 reviews66 followers
November 17, 2019
nothing wrong with this book, i just didn’t like it as much as i thought i would. i definitely enjoyed the second half more than the first half though (especially when it became more magical), and the art style was as beautiful as always!
Profile Image for stu .
127 reviews387 followers
April 4, 2021
1.5 Stars


The plot was weird, I barely knew what was happening at times, and and the whole concept was weird, I didn't get it. Plus the graphics/pictures, were too exaggerated. DID NOT LIKE IT!

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