Monday, 13 July 2009

"Art Saves"...'The Plain Janes'' and "Janes in Love"


I am so far behind that I'm beginning to panic. How will I get all these books reviewed? At last count, I had 16 books to review. 16! So I'm thinking of creative ways to review, because I enjoyed all of them. It is so rare that I like everything I am reading, that I want to give every book it's day!

So I'm going to begin with two library books I recently brought home, and post about my library books, because they have the graphic novels everyone is so curious about. Yes, I took out some graphic novels! My experience with Castle Waiting was so good that the graphic novel section was the first place I headed to when I found myself at the library two weeks ago.

This is what I took out:

1. The Mislaid Magician or 10 Years After - Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer
2. The New Policeman - Kate Thompson
3. Twelve Impossible Things Before Breakfast - Jane Yolen
4. Triss's Book - Circle of Magic # 2 - Tamora Pierce
5. The Changeling Sea - Patricia McKillip
6. Wyrmwood - G.P. Taylor
Graphic Novels:
7 &8. Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Season 8, vol 2 & 3, - Goddard, Whedon, Jeanty
9. The Plain Janes - Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg
10. Janes in Love - Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg
11. Angel - After the Fall - Whedon, Lynch and Urru

As you can tell, I stayed in the teen section. Since I was alone and couldn't give the books to my husband to carry (thus taking out twice as many!) and didn't bring a bag with me, I had to limit myself to what I could carry. I did look for Emma, the graphic novel everyone is blogging about - just today, Kim L at Bold. Blue. Adventure. reviewed it, here, but I couldn't find it.

Now, for the first reviews of the graphic novels:
The Plain Janes and Janes in Love - Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg.

The Plain Janes
I fell in love with them. I love the concept - a girl moves to a suburb from the inner city, and finds a group of girls at high school who are all Janes. They are all different, and outsiders, and when Jane from the city arrives, she makes them into a group.

She is no ordinary Jane, however. Most of the story is about how she finds meaning in her life after surviving something awful. I don't want to give it away, as it is integral to the the story, what has happened to her and how she struggles to give surviving a meaning. I hope it suffices to say that the subtext of this book and the sequel, Janes in Love, is 'Art Saves'. How cool is that? Two whole books about people and art and life.

I don't want to make it sound serious - it's not. Both books are funny and heart-breaking and wise and so very much about life. P.L.A.I.N. stands for what gives Jane her will to go on: People Loving Art In Neighborhoods. The Janes decide to secretly transform their world by making free art. How they do this, and how their school chums and the adults in the city react, is charming and funny and realistic. How they bring art into their lives, and their city, makes for fun reading. I wish I'd had a group like that in high school! They also invite the only gay guy, James, at the high school to be part of their group, when he stands up and sings - one of the P.L.A.I.N. initiatives - against the principal's express command not to. He is as much an outsider as they are, and their kindness in bringing him in brought a lump to my throat. Bravery is found in so many places, in so many unexpected ways.

Janes in Love is the sequel, and it is just as heartbreaking and funny and delightful as The Plain Janes. In this one, it's coming up on February 14, and the Ides of March dance in February. The Plain Janes fall in love, and decide to take their art to a higher level - they apply for a federal grant, to take over an empty plot on one of their streets rather than see it become another mini-mall. Do they get the grant? Do they find true love? Another tragedy finds Jane's mother refusing to leave the house while her father lives in the tent outside. Jane: One of the reasons I want to make the world beautiful is so my mother can remember it is.

Both these graphic novels celebrate life, and finding beauty - making beauty for others around you. Each of the teen girls is very realistic, though, and prone to mood swings, and despair, as is Main Jane (her online msn name with the others!) herself as she continues to recover from the terrible event that still shapes her and her parents' lives. There are so many different viewpoints about how to cope with life, about whether to run away and hide, or find something to give back, or do. Other students suffer too, from their families, deciding if they want to be part of P.L.A.I.N. too. What a remarkable heroine, and group of friends.

I love the theme "Art Saves.' I wish this could be the motto for our world today. It's going to be the theme of my blog now!

I highly recommend these graphic novels. 5/5 for each!

And I want thank every one of you, Gentle Readers, who has blogged about graphic novels over the last year and a half. I wouldn't have found these if it wasn't for you!! I love them so much I am putting them on my To-Buy list. I will want to read these again.


DesLily said...

ahhh the Mislaid Magician! I really enjoyed that series of books!

glad you are back.. I was beginning to wonder if you were alright!

Susan said...

Deslily: I'm reading it right now, in fact! I really enjoy the epistolary style. That and the fact magic works in the alternate England!

thanks....I am ok, just quiet as I come to terms with this spring! diabetes, death of a friend, as you unfortunately know only too well also this year, sometimes grief comes upon us unexpectedly. I can still read, though!

Daphne said...

Plain Janes sounds much more lovely than Heathers. :) What a great stack you got! I'll look forward to more reviews!

DesLily said...

sorry for your loss.
yes reading does help.. i will admit that for 4 months I wasn't getting a whole lot of enjoyment out of the reading but it has helped me in the long run.. it's just been "a loooong run".

I did love the letters and journals for that series of books.. had it been done with any more characters though, I don't think it would have worked so well.

Kailana said...

I really liked THE PLAIN JANES. I actually just requested that my library buy JANES IN LOVE, so fingers crossed that they do!

Debi said...

I'd sort of forgotten how much I'd enjoyed The Plain Janes...thanks for reminding me! And now I think I'll hit the library website to see if they ever bought Janes in Love. *fingers crossed*

Nymeth said...

I can't believe I haven't read these yet! I'm really looking forward to them, though. And I'm very glad you enjoyed them, and that you discovered how wonderful comics can be :D

Memory said...

Those two books sound amazing! Definitely something I want to get my hands on in the future.

Susan said...

Daphne: Plain Janes IS much better than Heathers, oh yes! And I did enjoy the movie when I saw it years ago. and reviews are forthcoming!

DesLily: I am in the middle of The Mislaid Magician now, and I am enjoying it!!

Kailana: I hope you can get Janes in Love!

Debi: I see that I'm one of the last to find the Janes! lol I hope you and Kelly are able to find Janes in Love at your library. I guess we are lucky we do have it at ours!

Nymeth: oh, these are really wonderful reads. I love them. Do you have them yet? Are they on your TBR shelf?

Memory: they are!!! I hope you can find them. They should be in the teen section.