June 19, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Bingo Love by Tee Franklin | SLJ Review

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redstarFRANKLIN, Tee. Bingo Love. illus. by Jenn St-Onge & Joy San. 88p. Image. Feb. 2018. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781534307506.

Gr 7 Up –Franklin’s first full-length graphic novel follows a love story between two black women. Hazel and Mari meet as teenagers in 1963 and become fast friends. A kiss in front of a church turns their relationship into something more. Their romance blossoms until Mari’s grandmother catches the couple and her homophobia tears the two apart. As time passes, Hazel marries James and starts a family, and her sexuality becomes invisible to all but her. A serendipitous night out at the bingo hall reunites Hazel and Mari, who are now in their 60s and have a second shot at love. Equally heartwarming and heartbreaking, this roller-coaster romance is a powerful tribute to social change across generations—and a reminder to today’s teens about the long struggle for LGBTQ rights. When Hazel comes out to her family as bisexual, James starts to reveal his own hidden past. The text directs readers to online bonus content to find out his secret—an unnecessary distraction from the honesty of the moment and the otherwise sharp characterization. St-Onge’s art is cinematic and expressive, brought to vivid life by San’s rich colors, and seamlessly connected to Hazel’s emotional states. Scenes from the past have a rosy quality in comparison to the stark present. VERDICT This tender, beautifully rendered coming-out tale deserves a place in all graphic novel collections.–Alec Chunn, Eugene Public Library, OR

This review was published in the School Library Journal June 2018 issue.

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