Adulting is hard. Cannonball, written and illustrated by Kelsey Wroten, is a raw story about the trials and tribulations of living through one’s 20s. With eye-popping illustrations and a relatable, if sometimes unlikable, main character, Cannonball is a perfect time capsule of the pains of being 24 and lost.
Caroline is an aspiring writer who graduates from school. She finds herself struggling to come to terms with growing up. While her friends start to move on and find “adult” jobs, Caroline stays stagnant. This arrested development is very much her own doing, as she refuses to sell out and become a poser. Everyone is a poser to Caroline. She believes that her words are powerful and she cannot be a part of the corporate world. She fights with her friends, her parents, and anyone connected with the writing industry. She drinks too much. She is jealous of the success of school acquaintances. Caroline falls into a dark spiral of loneliness, pettiness, and general self-hatred. One night while drunk, Caroline sits down and writes a story. It becomes an instant hit and is made into a book. Will Caroline finally find peace, or will she continue her self-sabotage?
The artwork is bright with an unusual use of colors. There is a distortion to the color palette as Caroline weaves in and out of the real world and her daydreams. The androgynous style of the characters works well with the overall queer overtones to the story. Wroten takes great care to give each character some individuality. They all have their own color scheme and signature look. The use of tattoos, hairstyles, and facial expressions rounds out the characters nicely and enhances the story greatly.
Cannonball is a painfully relatable story. The writing perfectly encapsulates a morose and stubborn 20-something who refuses to see the light among the dark. Caroline is a decidedly unlikable character. She’s mean and petty and doesn’t seem that interested in the well-being of her best friend and family. Caroline comes off as two-dimensional but the reality is that some people are so fixated on their own misery that they are blind to anything and everything else around them. The writing and dialogue feel extremely real. Cannonball is as beautiful as it is bold. It’s a classic story of existential angst and raging against the machine.
Cannonball is appropriate for readers 16+. There is a lot of alcohol consumption and some sexual situations. Cannonball would be enjoyable to readers of Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me by Mariko Tamaki, The Hard Tomorrow by Eleanor Davis, and On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden.
By Kelsey Wroten
Uncivilized Books, 2019
Publisher Age Rating: T
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Character Traits: Queer Genderqueer, Nonbinary