Alisa Kwitney writes a story about a fifteen-year-old Jewish girl in Miami in 1987. Shira’s best friends are her grandmother and her buddy, a former movie star. They feed her nostalgic dreams of glamour, which don’t help when her father gets seriously involved with his secretary. She feels like she’s losing his love, with no one’s support to replace it.
Some of the elements are standard — mean blonde classmates, a feeling of no one understanding her until she meets an unusual boy — but the idea of shoplifting as a vehicle for self-discovery is unusual, and events don’t work out in the standard, expected ways. More, Joelle Jones’ impressive art elevates the work with her expressive figures. Regardless of whether they’re beautiful, Jones’ characters are attractive in their uniqueness. (Her previous book, 12 Reasons Why I Love Her, was one of my Best of 2006.)
Although Minerva’s stories of the glory days have influenced Shira, especially how she thinks about the signals of love, the point of the book is that life isn’t a movie. The boy may just be a temporary enjoyment instead of a life-changing true love. Culture clash provides the allure of the different, but sometimes it can’t be overcome. Shira’s learning to make her own choices and deal with the consequences. Her father wants to pay attention to his life without letting her do the same. Working out a resolution and dealing with the heartbreak to get there makes everyone stronger.
The usual Minx title was a coming-of-age story in which a teenage girl discovers love and makes the first steps towards her own identity. While Token fits that mold, it provides a more mature, subtle take on things. It takes the line out on a high point.
Don MacPherson’s review includes some sample panels.