A queer coming-of-age story, complete with secret cigarettes, gross gym teachers, and a lot of church
It’s the early 2000s. Lauren is fifteen, soft-spoken, and ashamed of her body. She’s a devout member of an evangelical church, but when her Bible-thumping parents forbid Lauren to bring evolution textbooks home, she opts to study at her schoolmate Mariah’s house. Mariah has dial-up internet, an absentee mom, and a Wiccan altar—the perfect setting for a study session and sleepover to remember. That evening, Mariah gives Lauren a makeover and the two melt into each other, in what becomes Lauren’s first queer encounter. Afterward, a potent blend of Christian guilt and internalized homophobia causes Lauren to question the experience.
Author Jessica Campbell (XTC69) uses frankness and dark humor to articulate Lauren’s burgeoning crisis of faith and sexuality. She captures teenage antics and banter with astute comedic style, simultaneously skewering bullies, a culture of slut-shaming, and the devastating impact of religious zealotry. Rave is an instant classic, a coming-of-age story about the secret spaces young women create and the wider social structures that fail them.
From: Drawn & Quarterly
Notes on This Title
“This queer coming-of-age story follows the two lonely girls as they discover each other, fall apart over their beliefs, and individually face the casual homophobia of other teens as well as the organized anti-gay message of Lauren’s church. Campbell’s art clearly captures the emotions of the characters, notably Lauren’s anxiety and uncertainty contrasting with Mariah’s mask of confident attitude. The pages are largely formatted in traditional square panels, and the separation of each moment along with the heavy lines emphasizes the isolation and oppressive atmosphere the girls face. The climax of the story is a tense series of panels paralleling a fateful weekend. This is a story to leave readers melancholy, wistful, and wondering what could have been if only the world weren’t so cruel or full of hypocrisy. Grades 10-12.” (Source: Booklist February 2022 #1)
“Canadian cartoonist Jessica Campbell delivers a gracefully laconic graphic novel about a teen girl in the early aughts wrestling with faith and sexuality. The daughter of deeply religious parents, Lauren begins to question all she thinks she knows about herself when she’s paired with the rebellious, cigarette-smoking wiccan Mariah for a school science project. Campbell’s unobtrusive style makes for a quick read that will nonetheless linger with you long after you turn the final page.” (Source: Electric Literature)
“Unfolding at the intersection of budding sexuality and evangelical Christianity, this gripping graphic novel from Campbell (XTC69) depicts a quietly tragic coming-of-age. Fifteen-year-old Lauren appears no more swayed by her pastor’s warnings about remaining ‘a pure bride of Christ’ than his own disaffected, heavily pregnant daughter. After Lauren is paired with classmate Mariah—rumored to be a witch—for a school project on evolution, the two quickly become constant companions: talking, making out, and engaging in some light shoplifting. … With thick black lines and contemplative, wordless sequences, Campbell effectively conveys both Lauren’s turmoil and the harm done by a religion set on turning youthful passion into intolerance. It’s a testament to the hold of belief systems, even when one no longer believes.” (Source: Publishers Weekly)