makeshiftColby, a young teen on his own for the first time, feels distanced and disconnected from the world. He doesn’t fit in at school and just wants to be left alone to dream and imagine. When he climbs a hill overlooking the town, he gets more than the contemplative experience he envisioned. He gets a girl crashing to earth in a meteor. Her name is Iris and she doesn’t remember anything, not where she came from, what happened to her family, nor how she survived the fall. Colby tries to deal with the unexpected situation the best he can, but unexpected things keep happening and they all seem to be connected to Iris… Or is Colby himself the catalyst?

There’s very little actual plot in this story, mostly just hints and intimations, mysterious utterances, and random characters who may or may not be important. Other than a few exchanges between Colby and Iris, most of the text is Colby’s monologues about his inner life and how bewildered and disconnected he feels. The book could actually have worked quite well as a wordless story. Ultimately the lack of plot isn’t important, since the main draw of this book is the delicate, beautiful art. From the slightly raised tactile images on the endpapers to the swirling clouds and pops of light in almost every background, every aspect of the book is carefully designed to increase the dreamy, atmospheric experience of the story. In the opening panels, Colby is a spot of color in a dim gray world. His clothes are violet, his scarf salmon, his hair butter-yellow, and his shoes reflect all the colors of his clothes. As he steps out of the disconnected world of the gray-brown town, he stands in a purple landscape that reflects his own inner color. When Iris joins him in his world, color comes back into their surroundings. At times she seems like a typical manga character, with absurdly big eyes, pointed chin, and ridiculous cheerfulness, but as the story progresses she gradually lets her calm and centered exterior slip until in the final panels she sinks into the colorful background of the world she’s fallen into. Colby, on the other hand, enters a world that is no longer gray and disconnected, but vibrant with color, hinting that he may have, at last, come home.

There’s nothing glaringly inappropriate in this story. Although Iris is naked when she falls to earth, all important bits are hidden and there’s nothing sexual in her relationship with Colby. Teens looking for adventure or romance will be disappointed, but those who like a dreamy, imaginative story that will allow them to relate to a character who feels out of place, who are looking for something but not knowing what, will feel like it’s been written just for them. If you have a large population of artistic, creative teens who march to their own drummer and will love a story in the style of Romanticism, rather than romance, this will be a popular choice.

Makeshift Miracle, book 1: The Girl From Nowhere
by Jim Zub
Art by Shun Hong Chan
ISBN: 9781926778471
Udon, 2012

  • Jennifer

    | She/Her Youth Services Librarian, Matheson Memorial Library


    Jennifer Wharton is the Youth Services Librarian at Matheson Memorial Library in Elkhorn, Wisconsin where she maintains the juvenile and young adult graphic novel collections and was responsible for creating the library’s adult graphic novel collection. She is constantly looking for great new comics for kids and teens and new ways to incorporate graphic storytelling in programming. Jennifer blogs for preschool through middle grade at JeanLittleLibrary and has an MLS from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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