La Perdida recounts the story of Carla, a girl who goes to Mexico to explore her Mexican roots.  In Mexico, Carla stays with an American ex-boyfriend, Harry, until his disregard for her determination to pursue her Mexican heritage annoys them both to the point where frequent shouting matches erupt.  Carla moves out, to a less safe part of the town, but still struggles with the fact that she can never be Mexican enough to satisfy her anti-imperialist Mexican friends, who think of her as a good person, but nonetheless a representative of wealthy upper-class capitalist society.  When Carla’s brother arrives for a visit, his presence makes her re-examine the doubts she has about Mexico: can Harry and his ex-pat friends be people worth associating with, even if they don’t care deeply about the country they’re living in?  If her Mexican friends are really the shining figures of cultural consciousness she originally saw them as, why do they seem to spend most of their time getting high and associating with drug lords who see her as nothing but a sex object?  Carla’s worries about how she should be living her life are brought to a head when she learns that Harry has been kidnapped . . . and that her Mexican boyfriend and a number of her other friends were involved in the kidnapping. Jessica Abel’s black and white line drawings add to the atmosphere of harshness and reality in La Perdida.  Her characters are portrayed more realistically in very emotional scenes, which demonstrates to great effect how art in a graphic novel can be used to set the scene of the story. This 256-page tome is a book for people who want their comics to read like fiction–a great book to draw novel readers to the graphic novel. This book was written for an older teen/adult audience–there are frequent mentions of sexual situations, as well as discussion and portrayal of drug use.

La Perdida
by Jessica Abel
ISBN 9780375423659
Pantheon, 2006

  • Gina Gagliano

    Past Reviewer

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