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In Waves

4.37  ·  Rating details ·  2,173 ratings  ·  369 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
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Hardcover, 376 pages
Published June 4th 2019 by Nobrow
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Average rating 4.37  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,173 ratings  ·  369 reviews


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Dave 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 sur ...more
Scott
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 spot
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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 a ...more
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 tellin
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Deborah
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.
Alicia
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
Emma
Feb 23, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020, graphic-novels
I really wanted to emotionally connect to In Waves but I just never did. The book alternates between the history of surfing and a memoir about A.J. Dungo and his partner, Kristen. The historical sections are told in chronological order while the memoir sections are not. All of the jumping around in this book -- from different genres and various points in time -- made for a sort of disjointed reading experience. The out-of-order memoir sections made it tough to keep up with what stage of the rela ...more
Martina
Dec 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
read this while listening to Keaton Henson. I cried. A lot.
orangerful
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. ...more
Lillian
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! ...more
Mark
Dec 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir, graphic
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. ...more
yana
Nov 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After feeling stifled and overwhelmed by books in general, I found myself browsing the narrow graphic novels selection in my local bookstore. The cover design of In Waves practically called to me from disarray of the shelf, I pulled it down, and then there was just no putting it back after that.

The cinematography-meets-water illustration style and AJ Dungo's sincere narrative voice aren't things you come across on a daily basis. Some folks don't seem to like the surf history/story divide, but I
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Tamari
Nov 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful book about grief, loss and finding comfort in surfing. AJ Dungo’s drawings are amazing and I really liked the fact that the history of surf and Tom Blake were mixed up with « the main story ».
Alicen
This story will stay with me.
Jessica Young
Jul 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a big book, but a quick read. The sparse, straight-to-the-point text about the death of the author’s girlfriend and how that related to surfing and the solace it brought to him was just what I needed in my reading life right now. I could have done without the accompanying historical surfing storyline, but I just kind of skimmed that part. It didn’t seem to connect much to the dying girlfriend storyline anyway.
Joanka
Aug 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Surfing is beyond my area of interest and this graphic novel hasn’t changed that. And yet, it made perfectly clear what is the magic of it and I was surprised, how much I loved it. The history of surfing intertwined with the story of love and loss of your significant other and it was strangely so great. I enjoyed the subtle memoir part and nostalgic surfing part, that in the end completed each other nicely and in a heart gripping way. I also liked the illustrations and even more the colour schem ...more
Carol Tilley
Jun 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: comics, sports, memoir, death
Beautiful.
Lara
This is a really beautiful graphic novel about grief and loss and finding solace in surfing. Part history, part memoir, it goes back and forth between the early days of surfing in Hawaii and the story of Dungo’s relationship with Kristen, to whom the book is dedicated. The art’s all monocolor—brown for the history of surfing, blue for the memoir parts, and it’s simple and poignant, heartbreaking, and, ultimately, hopeful. I will definitely look for more from Dungo.
Catie
A beautiful, emotion-packed graphic memoir about grief and memories.
Claire
Jan 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
“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 o
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Samhain
May 19, 2020 rated it liked it
Visually stunning but this story has been told countless of times. Grief is universal, some people just do a better job at making it a compelling story. Not that it's badly written or anything, it just feels distant because none of the characters are presented in a way that we can get attached to them. It reads a bit like a documentary on this very particular grief. But it is a very pretty book. ...more
Summer
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. ...more
emma
Easily one of the best graphic novels/comics I’ve read. A meditation on both surfing and its history, and illness and love.
Akshay
Mar 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
A lot of things have changed since I moved to Tallinn, and one of them is that I don't read as many comics or graphic novels as I used to. Books in general are expensive here, and especially graphic novels are a bit hard to source. However, this has led to a tradition that I am fond of - that of visiting a nice bookstore in a new city whenever I travel to one, and to pick up a book for my tiny shelf back in Tallinn. One such book store that I found, and since have visited a few times again, is G ...more
Christopher
Intermixed with the history of surfing is a story of love and loss.

Author AJ Dungo relates his life to the joy of surfing. He tells of surfing's origins, how Duke Kahanamoku made surfing into a legendary sport, and how Tom Blake re-invented the sport through technological adjustments to the surfboard. Along the way, Dungo speaks of this book's real story: his falling in love with Kristen, a young woman afflicted with serious health issues. Their relationship plays the central role here, and the
...more
Molly Dettmann
May 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow, okay. I was drawn in by the artwork (I’m a sucker for gorgeous illustrations accented in one color). The semi-history of surfing and two surfing legends was okay, but definitely made me want to skim those more than dive into them. I like what the author was doing by weaving them into the book, but I could have done without. Now the autobiographical narrative of the author grieving for his girlfriend with cancer, woooo boy, did that story get me. I knew from the very beginning of that storyl ...more
Charty
Sep 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was an interesting if not completely satisfying memoir of a young man, AJ and his girlfriend Kristen. That alone probably wouldn’t be enough of a story for a book. What makes their story more compelling than typical adolescent romances is that Kristen had cancer, and loved to surf. The author’s love for Kristen leads him to a love of surfing, so in alternating chapters he narrates both his time spent with Kristen and a brief history of surfing.

Initially it seemed like an awkward narrative
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Madeline
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
Josephine
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.
Heather
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. ...more
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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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