Luisa: Now and Then

MAUREL, Carole & . tr. from French by Nanette McGuiness. 272p. Humanoids/Life Drawn. Jun. 2018. pap. $29.95. ISBN 9781594656439.
Luisa Arambol, 33, is resigned to her unsatisfying life. Her relationships with men never last, and her job as a culinary photographer isn't what she hoped it would be. But everything changes when her neighbor Sasha discovers a lost girl in their neighborhood, who turns out to be Luisa at age 15. When she comes face to face with her more passionate and resolute younger self, Luisa must acknowledge past decisions and how she has repressed her attraction to women. Occasional awkward phrasing crops up in this French translation, and the logistics of the time-traveling aren't explained, but the message about being true to oneself is universal. Maurel handles the hardships of teens coming to terms with their sexuality (or not) with raw honesty. Loose, scratchy linework overlays a soothing watercolor finish; Luisa's flashbacks are presented in grayscale, and Sasha's flashback in a citrus palette, while the present rotates between a lush burgundy gradient and cool sea-foam greens and blues. Footnotes discuss French cultural norms and practical differences between the two Luisa time lines. There is a scene of masturbation and sexual fantasy, but there is no nudity.
VERDICT This touching tale of growing up will resonate with most teens, especially those interested in titles exploring identity.

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