As his family falls apart, a young teen boy struggles to approach the girl he admires from afar.
Happy family memories recede into the past for Louis. His alcoholic father wallows in self-pity, holed up in the old family home; his mother, meanwhile, is unable to move beyond the weight of her worries. Thankfully, Louis’ younger brother, Truffle, remains a jolly light in Louis’ life. Spotting unmarked “ghost cop cars” on the highway with his friend Boris also helps Louis forget about his family’s troubles. But school brings more problems for Louis, who hasn’t yet worked up the nerve to talk to Billie, a girl whose words explode the world “in clusters of honey and fire.” With his parents in mind, he hesitates to say hello for a reason: “What I did know was that, for the most part, love ends badly.” Though laced with heartbreak and fragile hope, Louis’ narrative glows with quiet wit and compassion thanks to Britt’s careful, nuanced, and true-to-life examination of familial relationships. Arsenault’s expressive pencil-and-ink drawings render the story in simple lines and drab smears with occasional bursts of color, primarily yellow and light blue. Hopeful episodes—Louis nursing a baby raccoon back to health, Louis’ father rallying to free himself from alcoholism’s grip on an ill-fated family vacation—inevitably end in something less than ideal, but it all fades away, if momentarily, when Louis finds his voice in the face of love. (A white default is assumed.)
An unflinching, delicate portrait of a boy and his broken family. (Graphic novel. 10-14)