Welcome to the latest edition of Books on GIF, the animated alternative to boring book reviews. This Sunday's book is 'My Boyfriend Is a Bear' by Pamela Ribon and Cat Farris.
It's been a long time since I've reviewed a graphic novel. The last one was 'Imagine Wanting Only This' by Kristen Radtke back in May 2017. So when Mathew recommendedthis to me on Twitter, I was like:
The timing was perfect. I had read a string of excellent, but very intense, novels over the past few weeks, and I was looking for something lighthearted and different. 'My Boyfriend Is a Bear' is both, but it also was unexpectedly intense for personal reasons so there was no rest for the weary. But I'll come back to that. First, I want to tell you that this story is about Nora and her boyfriend, Bear, who is a bear. They meet in the woods outside Los Angeles when Nora is camping with her then-boyfriend Ben, who's a jerk who wears Arcade Fire T-shirts and chastises her for bringing women's magazines instead of Kerouac. After this admonishment, Nora leaves the campsite to bury the magazines, which is when she encounters Bear. They make eye contact, but she's like:
Weeks later, after Nora and Ben have broken up, she hears a noise outside her house. She peers out the back door and sees Bear rummaging through the trash. He had been looking for her. He wanted to return her buried magazines. I was like:
Bear moves in, and the story goes into the relationship issues all new couples face, including dealing with the reactions of parents and friends, the reemergence of an ex, the work/life balance, periods of separation (in this case hibernation), and the big fret over where the relationship is going and if it will last. Despite their being of different species, Nora and Bear were perfect for each other. They had fun together, and, for example, enjoyed binge-watching TV shows and cuddling. He was handy around the house, kind to Nora's cat, and he never put her down for reading magazines or doing other things she loved. They complemented each other, and through their relationship they became better versions of themselves, which is what a healthy relationship is all about. As I mentioned earlier, this story hit me in an intense and personal way. It brought back memories of when Donna and I were first dating, and our family and friends were concerned about our unconventional relationship given the significant age difference between us. What about kids!? He's too young! She's too old! You don't want to die alone! What will people think? 'My Boyfriend Is a Bear' does a beautiful and funny job reminding us that none of what other people say or think really matters, and that what's most important is finding someone to love and being loved by someone in return regardless of age, race, religion, wealth or whether you're a bear. Seriously, life is hard enough, and if you find this —
— don't let society talk you out of it. This is a terrific book. I love that Nora and Bear communicate like Han Solo and Chewbacca. I love that it is produced by an independent publisher in Portland, Oregon, which is one of my favorite places. And I adore the positive energy emanating from Ribon's writing and in Farris's drawings. So go get this book. You'll read it with a smile on your face like:
'My Boyfriend Is a Bear' by Pamela Ribon and Cat Farris was published by Oni Press, Inc., in 2018. 168 pages. $19.99 at Strand Book Store.
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In case you missed it: Books on GIF #85 featured 'The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion' by Margaret Killjoy.
What's next: In two weeks you'll get a review of 'Basic Black With Pearls' by Helen Weinzweig. Also in the queue are 'Trick' by Domenico Starnone, 'The Rent Collector' by Camron Wright and 'Masks' by Fumiko Enchi, among others.
Send your recommendations: If you've got a bestseller, a classic or a forgotten gem you want me to review, shoot me an email anytime.
Thanks for reading, and thanks especially to Donna for editing this review!
Until next time,