Review: Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me by Mariko Tamaki, Illustrated by Rosemary Valero-O'Connell

Title: Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me
Author: Mariko Tamaki
Illustrator: Rosemary Valero-O'Connell
Publisher: First Second
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Paperback, 289 Pages
Published May 2019

Summary: The day they got together was the best one of Freddy's life, but nothing's made sense since. Laura Dean is popular, funny, and SO CUTE ... but she can be really thoughtless, even mean. Their on-again, off-again relationship has Freddy's head spinning — and Freddy's friends can't understand why she keeps going back. When Freddy consults the services of a local mystic, the mysterious Seek-Her, she isn't thrilled with the advice she receives. But something's got to give: Freddy's heart is breaking in slow motion, and she may be about to lose her very best friend as well as her last shred of self-respect. Fortunately for Freddy, there are new friends, and the insight of advice columnist Anna Vice, to help her through being a teenager in love.

I had heard so many great things about this book before I had the chance to pick it up, which is what made me add it to my TBR. But I hadn't managed to get a copy until a few months ago, and then I waited for the perfect snowy day to pick it up while I was passing time on a post office line. And let me tell you, I'm very glad that I did, because I really enjoyed reading this book!

As the summary explains, Freddy is hopelessly in love with her girlfriend, Laura Dean. Even though Laura Dean keeps being unfaithful to her and breaking up with her. So Freddy writes to an advice column, asking about what she should do, all while trying to juggle her feelings for Laura Dean and her hope for their future with her friends and their own struggles that she isn't paying the most attention to while she's distracted by the chaos in her own life.

I really did enjoy this book. For starters, I thought that the art work and the color scheme were gorgeous! I spent so much time just staring at the gorgeous art and the detail on the pages -- there was seriously so much love and heart put into these illustrations, and it really showed. As I mentioned, I started reading this book while I was on a ridiculously long line at the post office, and the man standing behind me ended up even commenting on how awesome the art was (from his 6 feet away distance, of course)! I hadn't been a huge graphic novel reader until BookExpo a few years ago, where I had a chance to talk to Margot Wood, and I told her that I loved contemporary rom-com stories but I didn't know of any graphic novels that had that element. She recommended My Boyfriend is a Bear to me (you can read my review of that here!), and I ended up really loving it. So that's when I realized that there were some contemporary graphic novels out there that I could really enjoy -- the same with Check, Please! (another review you can read here). So I was glad that this book fit that bill for me too, and I ended up really enjoying it. :-)

I absolutely could not stand Laura Dean at any point throughout the book. I thought she was the absolute worst, which I understand was definitely the point. There were so many times that she was just gaslighting Freddy and treating her like the absolute worst and just being such a hurtful person, and while I understand that the point of the story is that Freddy is supposed to be blinded by her supposed love for Laura Dean (which is why she puts up with her behavior), I just wanted to reach through the book and shake her shoulders and be like "Girl!!!! LEAVE HER!!! She's an actual garbage person!!" But I really did like the fact that the book delves into the tricky, sticky web of teenage love and how sometimes we can find ourselves wanting to see the best in people who don't always deserve it. Even though it's a tough lesson to learn, it's an important one, that's for sure. 

(Spoilers in this paragraph, so skip to the next one to avoid them!) The only thing I wasn't super enthusiastic about with this book was the way that Laura Dean flipped out on Freddy seemingly out of nowhere as soon as Freddy broke up with her. It doesn't really seem like she cares about Freddy at all during most of the book, even a little bit, so her explosive reaction didn't really make much sense to me. But maybe that was the whole point, about how Laura Dean guards her emotions and continuously hurts people and doesn't make much sense. I just know that it confused me a little bit as a reader.

Overall, I really liked reading Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me, and I'd definitely recommend it for any readers out there who want to dip their toes into the graphic novel scene while still staying in the contemporary/romance genre that they love and are familiar with. I'm so glad that Margot convinced me to give graphic novels a try a few years ago, and I'm so glad that I found a sub-genre of them that I enjoy! So if anyone else has any more contemporary romance graphic novel recommendations, please drop them in the comments down below, because I'd love to hear them. :-)


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