Featured Review: You Brought Me the Ocean (Alex Sanchez)
About This Book:
The voices that shaped LGBTQ Young Adult literature, Lambda Award-Winning author Alex Sanchez (Rainbow Boys) and New York Times bestselling illustrator Julie Maroh (Blue Is the Warmest Color), present a new coming-out romance set against the backdrop of the DC Universe. Jake Hyde doesn't swim--not since his father drowned. Luckily, he lives in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, which is in the middle of the desert. And yet he yearns for the ocean and is determined to leave his hometown for a college on the coast. But his best friend, Maria, wants nothing more than to make a home in the desert, and Jake's mother encourages him to always play it safe. But there's nothing "safe" about Jake's future--not when he's attracted to Kenny Liu, swim team captain and rebel against conformity. And certainly not when he secretly applies to Miami University. Jake's life becomes a reflection of the name of his small town--does he live his truth and face the consequences? Jake is full of secrets, including the strange blue markings on his skin that glow when in contact with water. What power will he find when he searches for his identity, and will he turn his back to the current or dive headfirst into the waves?
*Review Contributed By Olivia Farr Staff Reviewer*
YOU BROUGHT ME THE OCEAN is a graphic novel of the origin story for Aqualad. Jake is 17 and living in New Mexico with his over-protective mother. He spends a lot of time with his BFF, Maria, but he's hiding some things from her. He is covered in birthmarks- at least, that is what his mother says they are, and he dreams of being near the ocean. He wants to go to the University of Miami to study oceanography, but he hasn't told Maria yet- and they had planned to go to school together.
Jake finds himself really interested in Kenny, the guy who has been openly gay since middle school. Kenny has not had it easy, and there are a lot of guys at school who are hateful and homophobic bullies. Jake decides to try to get to know Kenny better, and they go for a hike. It is there that Jake begins to realize that he has some super-abilities with water. He also finds himself attracted to Kenny, but is not sure he wants to come out yet.
The comic follows Jake as he realizes his powers and sexuality, Maria as she discovers the same, and Kenny, as he tries to understand Jake and find middle ground with his father- who hasn't been very supportive of his sexuality.
What I loved: The colors in the comic book give it a unique mood, and I really love the juxtaposition of coming into your own for both powers and sexuality. The teenage years are a time of self-discovery, and that really comes across here. The way the parents handle it all is also interesting and ultimately supportive of all of the above, which is really helpful for teens who may be grappling with the same concerns to see.
What left me wanting more: The comic can be a bit wordy in places with extra-narration. It would have been helpful to do more show vs. tell in places, as it feels like it takes the reader out of the story a bit. The illustrations are also a bit strange in places where the characters feel a little distorted/features disappear/are hard to recognize. I also felt like I needed a bit more to the story. We get the big reveal of where his powers came from and a taste of what they might be, but this isn't explored and does not really have much bearing on the story. The bullies are really just scared off and not fully dealt with (I'm surprised the parents aren't acting on that more), and I felt like maybe a section of the story was missing to tie in the rest of the DC Universe we've been hearing about and making his mother's warnings seem more real.
Final verdict: Overall, YOU BROUGHT ME THE OCEAN is a coming-of-age graphic novel about coming out and finding out about powers that will speak to the teenage experience. A second installment to bring it all together and expand would add to this story.
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