December 14, 2017

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As the Crow Flies by Melanie Gillman | SLJ Review

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redstarGILLMAN, Melanie. As the Crow Flies. illus. by Melanie Gillman. 250p. Iron Circus Comics. Nov. 2017. pap. $30. ISBN 9781945820069.

Gr 6 Up –Charlie, 13, is excited to embark on an all-girls Christian camp’s backpacking trip. However, despite Camp Three Peaks’ commitment to feminism, head counselor Bee and many of the campers are unwittingly racist and homophobic, and Charlie, who is black and queer, grapples with self-doubt. She confides in God, wondering if a feather that follows her on her trek is a sign from above, and her spirits lift as she bonds with the more outspoken Sydney, a trans girl who feels similarly alienated. This contemplative graphic novel, taken from Gillman’s ongoing webcomic, perceptively explores race, gender, faith, and friendship. Elegantly composed, richly hued images vividly portray the lush forest setting and shy, thoughtful Charlie’s inner turmoil as she yearns to voice her opinions. Scenes in which she appears on the periphery of panels or crowded by the speech bubbles of her insensitive fellow campers adroitly capture her isolation. Gillman zeroes in on seemingly small yet achingly relatable moments as Charlie and Sydney’s friendship slowly develops. The book subtly folds in lessons about identity and the danger of assumptions; both girls learn and grow about each other, themselves, and the larger world. VERDICT Heartfelt, stimulating, and sure to spark discussion about feminism’s often less than inclusive attitudes toward marginalized groups. For all graphic novel collections.–Mahnaz Dar,School Library Journal

This review was published in the School Library Journal November 2017 issue.

Mahnaz Dar About Mahnaz Dar

Mahnaz Dar (mdar@mediasourceinc.com) is Assistant Managing Editor for Library Journal and School Library Journal and can be found on Twitter @DibblyFresh.

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