“…everything you’ve seen is built by you. Which is why you’ll never see it again,” (Walden 256).
I absolutely adored Walden’s amazing graphic novel On a Sunbeam so it was crushing not liking Are You Listening?
Bea is running away and ends up running into Lou, an acquaintance of her mom’s who agrees to drive her to wherever she wants to run away too (Bea doesn’t have all the details worked out yet). But as they drive through West Texas things start to change: the landscape, mysterious pit stops, a friendly cat, and they’re being followed by a group of shadowy men. Bea and Lou must trust each other to stay safe and confront hard truths neither of them wants to acknowledge.
The artwork was amazing as usual for Walden, but the story wasn’t. I love fantasy and magical realism, I even love vague stories but the thing with vague stories is they can’t be too vague. You don’t have to tell the reader everything for how they should interpret things but you do need to give them something to be interpreted. A story can’t be so vague that the reader can’t understand what it was about, what symbols or metaphors, especially in a story so based in magical realism reader’s need to be able to understand something and Are You Listening? doesn’t really give reader’s a chance to listen.
It’s a quick read, I was able to do it in a day, and while I loved the relationship between Bea and Lou and each of them having to confront a difficult (or in Bea’s case traumatic) moment in their life it felt kind of rushed. The revelations were made and then they were over, nothing more to discuss.
I definitely won’t stop reading Walden’s work because she is an amazing graphic novelist, but Are You Listening? just wasn’t for me.
Publication: September 10th 2019
Publisher: First Second
Pages: 320 pages
Genre: Fiction, Graphic Novel, Fantasy, Magical Realism, LGTBQ*
My Rating: ⛤⛤
“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.”