This installment of Aya, by Marguerite Abouet, picks up where the last one left off. Secrets do in fact come out. The first secret that we readers are exposed to involves the fallout from Aya’s father’s mistress and secretary Jeanne having exposed the affair and left her (and Ignace’s) children at Ignace’s house. This has wide ramifications, and the first part of the book deals with the fallout of this revelation from the perspective of many of the principal characters.
Aya attempts to reason with Jeanne, and through this process hears more about how her father was duplicitous. Félicité, the young maid, reacts with fear. She supposes that with this revelation the family will split up, forcing her to move back to her village. Ignace tries to explain things to his wife, Fanta, before quickly leaving to take his and Jeanne’s children back to Jeanne. While he is gone, Aya talks with her mother and the family friends about the situation.
The second big secret unearthed is that Albert’s girlfriend is discovered. Discovered by Félicité as Innocent (Inno), the male hairstylist in town. As to be expected Félicité confides in Aya, and then Aya is largely at the center of the narrative of this story. She’s the one that everyone ultimately revolves around. Inno decides the homophobia of his home is too much and confides in Aya that he wants to move to Paris with Albert. Albert has to make a big decision, family or love?
Other than the two big secrets, this book mostly focuses on the exploits of various town peoples. It also features the Miss Yopugon pageant. This pageant brings all of the townsfolk together in short order, and serves as the unifying event of this volume of Aya’s life. If all of this sounds very soap operaish, that’s because it is! This is one of the narrative’s great attractions.
Clément Oubrerie’s art is another selling point. He excels in using character body language and posture to display the subtext of a scene. This combined with bright colors gives each character a distinct and recognizable personality. The scene when Félicité confesses to Aya that she saw Albert and Inno together is one that features this talent. Aya’s posture moves from demanding to comforting as Félicité starts at reserved until she breaks down and confesses the secret with tears and a plaintive wail. The only mark against his art is that it is likely that the red jacket that Inno wears in this volume is an anachronism. It appears to be a Michael Jackson red thriller jacket, when that video did not appear until 1983 and the story is set in 1980. That being said, the art taken as a whole is superb.
As before, this volume of Aya’s story is human centric and focuses primarily on young people. The series is set in the Ivory Coast in 1980; this is what sets it apart from most other “real life” type stories told in comic form. It deftly handles serious and humorous situations without veering into the maudlin. This makes it a worthy purchase for both Academic and public libraries. High school libraries should also consider it depending on individual circumstances.