Sunday, June 6, 2010

Refresh Refresh - Mini-Review

I have a bad habit of checking books out from the library, reading them, copying down quotes I think I might want to use in my review, and then returning them to the library. Given the volume of books I read, those quotes don't help me that much if I wait too long to sit down and write the review. The books that I'm "mini-reviewing" left an impression on me and I feel that I can recommend them without hesitation, I just can't remember enough little details to write full reviews.

Novgorodoff, Danica. Refresh Refresh. Adapted from the screenplay by James Ponsoldt; based on the short story by Benjamin Percy. Color by Hilary Scamore. New York: First Second, 2009. Print.
[Book cover credit:]
A small town is turned upside down when most of the men, Reservists, are sent to Iraq. The local recruitment officer tries to work his magic on the remaining men in town, including about-to-graduate high schoolers Josh, Cody, and Gordon. They manage to avoid him while trying to deal with lives without their fathers. Home life is different for each but hard for all as they try to learn to be men without a wide range of role models around. They spend their days being as macho as they can in public, going as far as to start a fighting club and take on local bullies, while in private they're glued the their computers, awaiting emails from their fathers.

I don't really know how to write a review of this book, which I guess is why I haven't. It's so sad, all around, and so hopeless in so many ways. The three boys that are at the center of the story aren't the only ones affected by the war, most of the town is, so there isn't really anywhere for them to go to get away from the worry and fear that they themselves feel. Each of them deals with it in their own ways, coming together for their fights. The prevailing feeling is pain. The fights just make that pain physical, shared, and visible.

Most of the story is told through the artwork. The dialog and text are pretty sparse. It works so well in this graphic novel that I can't imagine the short story it was based on. The lack of words make the faces and feelings take on so much more meaning and, in the end, the feelings are what this book is about. And it's beautifully drawn. The images pulled me into the story in a way that I don't know if the short story would have.

Anyway, I really thought Refresh Refresh was very good, but I know that I'm not doing it any kind of justice here. Ninja Librarian's review made me check it out, so I'll let her convince you too. :)

Book source: Philly Free Library

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