From Noelle Stevenson, the New York Times bestselling author-illustrator of Nimona, comes a captivating, honest illustrated memoir that finds her turning an important corner in her creative journey—and inviting readers along for the ride.
In a collection of essays and personal mini-comics that span eight years of her young adult life, author-illustrator Noelle Stevenson charts the highs and lows of being a creative human in the world.
Whether it’s hearing the wrong name called at her art school graduation ceremony or becoming a National Book Award finalist for her debut graphic novel, Nimona, Noelle captures the little and big moments that make up a real life, with a wit, wisdom, and vulnerability that are all her own.
Notes on This Title
The Fire Never Goes Out does not explicitly identify Noelle Stevenson as nonbinary, but the tag is used for this work because they have identified as such on their Twitter and nonbinary readers may draw similarities to their own experiences.
This graphic memoir discusses a period of depression accompanied by extreme weight loss that may imply disordered eating.
Starred review: “Deeply affecting, heart-wrenchingly honest. This work of pure vulnerability and ultimately hope may serve as a vital lifeline for young fans in need of having their own inner struggles reflected in their heroes. An incredibly brave offering from one of comics’ most precious creators.” (Source: Booklist, 2020 May #2)
“It’s a memoir of her coming to terms with absence, giving a name to a thing inside her but apart from her. Stevenson’s is a life that in many ways is pushed to its edges by this flame, this spacious crater, and The Fire is a document of moments she has made those feelings come to life, frozen and burning on the page. The reader shares these intimacies, notes to self as powerful as a play, as poetry, as a fruit split and passed to open hands.” (Source: The Beat)
“Otherwise told from a first-person point of view, the book sometimes detours into second person for discussions of mental illness, which may elicit a sense of intimacy and immediacy for readers. Both the art and narrative thread are intermittent and somewhat impressionistic; the illustrations are largely in grayscale, often with characters adrift in white space, lending a feeling of rawness but also incompleteness. Absent are the bright colors, sly humor, and polish of her other pieces, such as Nimona (2015) and the Lumberjanes series. Rather than a how-to guide to publishing or a behind-the-scenes peek at Stevenson’s artwork and process, this is a highly personal tale of an emotional journey that somehow also manages to feel universal. A snapshot of success and struggles that adds to the conversation about mental health.” (Source: Kirkus Reviews)
“‘Nimona,’ ‘Lumberjanes,’ and ‘She-Ra’ share a sensibility: all-ages, girl-powered, whimsical but with a streak of angst, grounded in fantasy and in campfire tales, with multiple characters designed to help troubled young readers through their personal darkness. ‘The Fire Never Goes Out,’ Stevenson’s new book, reflects that sensibility, but it’s an altogether different sort of work: the volume gathers short autobiographical comics that Stevenson drew (and often posted on the Web) between 2010 and 2019. It’s a memoir of sorts, with slices of life from the end of Stevenson’s teens to near the present day. It’s also a coming-out story, a love story, a tale of disorientingly rapid professional triumph, and a story about mental health and illness, showing the young artist figuring out what she must do—first to make art and then to get well.” (Source: The New Yorker)
“But the book feels raw and personal in a way that eclipses the usual structure of a memoir. It’s an open admission that an illusion of strength and competence can hide a core of insecurity, and that even the most talented creators can struggle with feeling like frauds. There’s a winsomeness to Stevenson’s version of a confessional — her cartoon versions of herself are nakedly vulnerable and hurting, but they’re also frankly adorably drawn and appealing. And readers who’ve followed Stevenson’s career and identify with her in any way — particularly her most expressive core audience, of young, questing queer people who are similarly finding themselves — are likely to connect not just to the message, but to Stevenson’s distinctive, self-effacing, artful way of communicating it.” (Source: Polygon)
“Depicting herself with a range of hairstyles and frequently with a hole in her center, she documents her spiritual struggles, burgeoning independence, and deep fears, often in the form of gentle letters to her younger self. By conveying key events primarily via generalized summaries—about coming out as queer, workplace burnout, secret projects, troubled relationships, and mental crescendos—Stevenson sometimes undermines her own raw emotion, which is on clearer display where she depicts, for example, discovering that her grandma accepts her sexuality or describes the titular fire as a thing that ‘lit you up or burned you apart.’ Stevenson’s illustrations are sweet, simple, and confident. If the memoir feels a bit scattered at times, so does the experience of youth itself; Stevenson brings unique and endearing insight to the messy process of growing up.” (Source: Publishers Weekly)