Abused by her domineering father, Pearl reinvents herself as a boy and takes to the road.
In the Depression-era United States, girls have few options, and headstrong and privileged white Pearl has a desire to learn. After her mother’s passing, Pearl is left with her grief-stricken father, who communicates with his fists rather than words. In an impulsive moment, she cuts off her hair, exchanges her fine dress for dungarees, and introduces herself as a boy named Soupy. Soupy meets Ramshackle, an elderly white hobo and a perpetual dreamer who is able to see wonder in the mundane. Ramshackle takes her under his wing and helps her navigate life as a hobo. As Ramshackle’s health declines, Soupy must decide whether she will ever reveal her true self to him. Told in graphic format, Soupy’s journey comes alive through richly color-saturated, usually monochromatic panels that orient readers to a bygone era. Castellucci has created a strong heroine who both defies conventionality and embodies empowerment; as her transformative journey nears its denouement, she makes a resolute decision: “I have to go and face my things or else I’ll never be free,” a message still highly relevant to today’s world.
A compelling graphic offering that explores relevant gender roles and self-identity through a historical lens. (Graphic historical fiction. 12 & up)