Typically, when I see a book entitled A Boy and a Girl, I immediately think “romance novel”—and most likely a cheesy one, given its relatively simplistic title. In this case, I was right, but so wrong as well: the book’s simple title hides a complex story full of humor, wit, and deep thoughts about what makes us human.
The future has arrived, and with it came flying cars, airbags on buildings to prevent jumpers, and of course, lifelike androids that appear to be human. “But how human are they?” the world wonders. At a party whose host has just replaced his dearly departed mother with an android, a chance encounter between Charley and Travis has emotions running high. As Travis tries to find Charley again before she leaves town, the two are about to experience a day that neither of them will soon forget.
This is one of those books that I find difficult to review because I want to tell too much of the story, to go on about the twists and turns we come across. This story isn’t just a romance; it’s something much, much more and I need to leave it be so that you might discover just what it is. To give you a one sentence description: if you can imagine that Isaac Asimov meets a John Cusack romantic comedy, that will give you an idea of what you might find within this relatively short book (just 168 pages).
Jamie Rich has crafted a story that leads the reader to question what it means to love, but also what it means to be human. For me, the characters were almost secondary to the story. Don’t get me wrong, they’re strong, well-written characters — the kind that you could imagine meeting in real life, but the questions that are raised by the plot could fuel several book discussion groups and perhaps a semester-long college course. Rich deftly weaves a narrative that seems simple on the surface, but is far more elegant underneath.
As far as the artwork goes, Natalie Nourigat has quickly become one of my favorite artists since I discovered her autobiographical comic, Between the Gears. Her artwork is clean; easily capturing the bare essence of the characters with a few lines and bringing them to life almost effortlessly. In A Boy and a Girl, she has used a primary color palette of blue mixed with white and black, and that simple palette suits its context; we don’t need artwork that is awash in multiple colors to drown out the underlying questions of the narrative. Nourigat creates characters that move with ease on the page and work well within the story.
Together, Rich and Nourigat have created a story that will allow its readers to see love in a different light. This book has broad appeal, but it may be especially relevant to teen readers who are first coming to terms with the concept of love. As mentioned above, it would also work well in a book discussion group. Other titles that might appeal to fans of A Boy and A Girl include Cute Girl Network by MK Reed, Greg Means, and Joe Flood, Lost at Sea by Bryan Lee O’Malley, and We Can Fix It: A Time Travel Memoir by Jess Fink.
A Boy and a Girl
by Jamie S. Rich
Art by Natalie Nourigat
Oni Press, 2013
Publisher Age Rating: Teen+