*Go With Grace — Recommended

I haven’t ever seen anyone else talk about Go With Grace, and I’m surprised, since this stand-alone graphic novel by new talent George Alexopoulos is quite impressive in its own quiet way.

Go With Grace cover
Go With Grace
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It’s about a depressed, invalid girl and the mysterious boy who visits her through her balcony. Grace has an undiagnosed mystery disease that keeps her confined to her bedroom, where she writes poetry and fills journals. Her mother passed away several years back, and her father is contemptuous, caring only about the cost of treatment. Her younger sister Ashley somehow maintains her cheerfulness in the face of these family dynamics, becoming a little mother.

Grace isn’t sure what to make of the boy, thinking him a hallucination, ghost, or dream. He does inspire her, though, and teaches her to see things in a different way, until events cascade in a surprising fashion to an ending that leaves the reader with the question of whether it’s happy or not.

Grace’s room is a restricted environment that Alexopoulos keeps interesting by infinitely varying his portrayals of it and Grace. Her long dark hair changes in arrangement and texture with her moods. The indiscriminate time frame contributes to the feeling of uncertainty. Ashley wears a backpack and Grace has a television but the streets are paved with cobblestones and the girls wear old-fashioned dresses and hairstyles.

Although published in a manga-style format — this is a small black-and-white book, just the size of the reader’s hands — Alexopoulos’ style isn’t particularly Japanese-influenced. His open faces are typically termed cartoony, but he populates his world with plenty of detail, including costumes and setting. Most of the appeal comes from the variety of mood Alexopoulos creates in his scenes and the universality of the themes he captures: The psychological connection between spirit and body and the human need for companionship and understanding.

It sounds terribly goth, I know, or maybe emo, but it’s not annoying in either of those ways. I found it thought-provoking, one of those books I immediately read a second time to see what I’d missed and how my interpretation changed with more knowledge.

Alexopoulos has a blog and a website, and he has been interviewed at Newsarama.

7 Responses to “*Go With Grace — Recommended”

  1. Tintin Says:

    I bought this book and liked it (having met with the creator a few times). It’s really impressive- especially considering this is a first work. The story’s a bit hard to define or situate within manga’s tropes- is it sci fi? fantasy? is it an alternate-world story? I’m guessing that much of the audience it’s targetted towards is perplexed by the story, which is why it’s gone under the radar of manga fandom. It’s a shame, because this is a book that would really benefit by good marketing to a YA-reading audience rather than an otaku audience.

  2. Tintin Says:

    And maybe a different choice of cover would’ve helped as well. The girl-against-spiral-background makes me think of the manga ‘Uzumaki’, which brings up thoughts of psychological horror and gruesome death. Again, the cover is hard to define and doesn’t categorize the book successfully- regardless of how well it works as a standalone illustration.

  3. Lyle Says:

    Wow. Thanks for bringing this one up, Johanna. I hadn’t heard anything about this one, either, but it sounds great.

  4. Johanna Says:

    Tintin, I agree with you about the audience not being able to find it in this format. The manga size/package works against it, I think, since what little manga of this type we’ve seen in the US has been bigger in format.

    And yes, the cover is very misleading.

    Lyle, I hope you enjoy it!

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    […] Johanna Draper Carlson on George Alexopoulos’ Tokyopop release, Go With […]

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