You Brought Me the Ocean

DC Comics. Jun. 2020. 208p. pap. $16.99. ISBN 9781401290818.
Gr 8 Up–“Maybe I’ve hidden so much of myself I’m not sure who I am.” High school student Jake Hyde’s life is full of secrets. His overprotective mother wants him to stay far from water—easy enough in Truth or Consequences, NM—but he knows that he needs to be near the ocean and wants to study oceanography at the University of Miami. His best friend Maria Mendez dreams of a future with him, but he’s not in love with her. And though he’s afraid to admit it, he’s attracted to Kenny Liu, the out captain of the high school’s swim team. Soon Jake discovers there’s more to his mother’s fears, and to the birthmarks on his arm, than he realized. Lambda Award–winning author Sanchez’s Aqualad origin tale speaks to the heart, favoring budding romance over action. While the dialogue is often blunted by water-related puns, Jake’s journey to self-acceptance is authentic. A group of violently homophobic teens are situated as this volume’s villains, but Sanchez sets up the possibility of a sequel with the looming threat of Black Manta. Maroh’s (Blue Is the Warmest Color) muted blue and beige tones and soft pencil outlines complement Sanchez’s sensitive writing. However, the illustrations sometimes err too far into cartoonish depictions, with wonky body proportions and facial expressions that are at odds with the somber mood of the story.
VERDICT Fans of DC’s new line of young adult graphic novels, such as Kami Garcia’s Teen Titans: Raven, will appreciate this tender take on Aqualad.

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