Breaking Up is an excellent addition to Graphix’s collection of graphic novels for teen girls. The group of juniors in high school might be the friends from Queen Bee or The Babysitters Club grown a little older.
Aimee Friedman writes and Christine Norrie draws the story of how the best friendship between Mackenzie and Chloe changes over one year at Fashion High, their name for their artsy, style-obsessed school. Mackenzie’s the fast one, eager to grow up, experience life, and make out with boys. Chloe’s less sure of herself, hanging back to observe. Isabel and Erika complete their quartet.
The year doesn’t start well when Chloe finds out that Mackenzie is sharing secrets with Nicola instead of her. Nicola’s the most popular girl in school, and her attention will give Mackenzie a leg up in the popularity stakes. The situation is complicated by Mackenzie’s hots for Nicola’s boyfriend. The last major member of the cast is Adam, nice-guy geek.
The story is comfortably familiar, but it’s executed with skill. Norrie’s art is outstanding, capturing teen girls distinctively. She pays attention to the expressions and fashions needed to make these girls seem realistic. She also illustrates fantasies and metaphors to make clear the girls’ emotions and attitudes, some of which are hilarious.
The feelings Chloe experiences — uncertainty, confusion, falling in love for the first time, being torn between her friend and boyfriend, concern over fitting in, discomfort with secrets — are those any teen will relate to. Over the year captured in this substantial and fast-paced graphic novel, Chloe grows up, and her lessons learned are a comfort to the reader, demonstrated through beautiful, accomplished art. Any teen who enjoyed Mean Girls will love this story.