Are You My Mother?

Alison Bechdel

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In this graphic memoir Bechdel, best known for Fun Home and Dykes to Watch Out For, explores her complicated relationship with her mother and her somewhat subconscious search for mother figures in other women in her life, particularly her therapist. She masterfully weaves in references to notable psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott, Virginia Wolfe, and other great authors that influenced her understanding of her relationship with her mother, in a way that is nothing but literary.

Appeals to

Adults with a strained relationship with a parent will relate to Bechdel's search for the deeper understanding of her relationship with her mother.

Content Notes

Nudity and sexual situations, brief depiction of body horror

Creator Identities:

  • Sexuality: 7029

Main Character Identities:

  • Sexuality: 5363
Recommended by

Tayla Cardillo

Bad Sister

Charise Mericle Harper

Rory Lucey

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Charise has a little brother, Daniel. They have a lot of fun together, but Charise isn't always the kindest or most responsible with her brother. This heartwarming story explores the complicated feelings of growing up as the older sibling while asking the question of what makes someone a bad or good sibling?

Appeals to

Readers who enjoy the sibling dynamics in Smile and Sisters

Recommended by

Megan Rupe

Bingo Love

Tee Franklin

Jenn St-onge

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This graphic novel shows that it's never too late to be with the love of your life, or to be your truest self. This story follows Hazel and Mari, who meet in 1963 when Mari moves to New Jersey from California and starts attending the same school as Hazel. They become fast friends, but both of them secretly want more. Soon after they both confess their feelings to each other, they are caught kissing by Mari's grandmother and are forced to stop seeing each other by both of their families. They both go on to marry men and start families of their own, but both of their lives are turned upside down when almost 50 years later they meet, and kiss, again.

Appeals to

Everyone looking for a rainbow romance with a happy ending.

Content Notes

Homophobia

Creator Identities:

  • Race and/or Nationality: 6704
  • Sexuality: 7031
  • Neurodivergence: 7043
  • Disability: 7063

Main Character Identities:

  • Race and/or Nationality: 5974
  • Sexuality: 5363, 5366
Recommended by

Tayla Cardillo

Bitter Root

David Walker

Sanford Greene

The family that slays men-turned-demons-by-racist-anger stays together but the Sangerye family is wearing thin. Mama Etta conjures cures and ammunition to fight the jinoo, while Blink bridles at the women's work of the family business, itching to put her moves to the test and avenge her parents. It's the Harlem Renaissance and Bitter Root gives us a stunning Afrosteampunk window into raucous fights, gritty history, and unforgettable characters. The marks of generational trauma are vivid when they cross dimensions as well as time.

Appeals to

Fans of the latest Watchman adaptation on HBO, Lovecraft Country, lyrical yet kickass stories of generational magic, and the nexus between arcane gadgetry and myth.

Content Notes

Cartoonish blood, gore and violence

Creator Identities:

  • Race and/or Nationality: 6730

Main Character Identities:

  • Race and/or Nationality: 5357
Recommended by

Sunny Carito

Bride's Story

Kaoru Mori

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For a charming story about what family can mean, follow the stories of different brides joining their new families across Central Asia in the 19th Century. Every few volumes, the story shifts to another bride and her story, with an overarching plot involving the events of the time. Also, enjoy the most lovingly drawn illustrations of wood carvings and hand woven cloth!

Appeals to

Perfect for fans of historical romance, and those interested in learning more about the tribal peoples of Central Asia, but also a phenomenal choice for anyone who wants to immerse themselves in a beautifully crafted manga.

Content Notes

There is some nudity, but it's brief and not sexualized. There are cases of age gaps between couples, but it's depicted with care and not as fetishization. There are dead animals occasionally, though no gore.

Recommended by

Shannan Prukop

Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant

Roz Chast

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Roz Chast details her experience helping her aging parents make end-of-life preparations. This memoir tackles a delicate topic while maintaining the sense of levity for which Chast is known.

Appeals to

Humor readers who don't shy away from tough topics

Creator Identities:

  • Religion: 7193

Main Character Identities:

  • Religion: 5802
Recommended by

Shira Pilarski

Dancing at the Pity Party

Tyler Feder

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Tyler Feder explores the impact of her mother’s cancer diagnosis and death on her and the rest of her family in this moving graphic memoir.

Appeals to

Readers experiencing the loss of a family member

Content Notes

Parental death; frank discussion of medical topics (cancer) and death

Creator Identities:

  • Religion: 7193

Main Character Identities:

  • Religion: 5802
Recommended by

Megan Rupe

Good Talk

MIra Jacob

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MIra Jacob opens her memoir with her curious half-Jewish, half-Indian son asking complicated questions about race and identity, while Jacob does her best to explain. What follows is an examination of a lifetime of conversations about race, sexuality, love, and family. She explores her relationship with her son, her husband, and her parents, and her parent's relationship with each other. The conversations also navigate personal and political issues during the 2016 election. Readers will appreciate her candor and vulnerability.

Appeals to

As we sit down with family over the holidays, many of us may want to avoid difficult and overt conversations about race and identity, but Jacob's candid reflections in this memoir will appeal to those who are trying to navigate these waters themselves. Adult graphic memoir readers and those who are drawn to the unconventional memoir or comic will also appreciate this book.

Creator Identities:

  • Race and/or Nationality: 6832

Main Character Identities:

  • Race and/or Nationality: 6004
Recommended by

Emily

Hotel Dare

Terry Blas

Claudia Aguirre

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Olive, Darwin, and Charlotte are visiting their abuela's defunct hotel in Mexico for the summer. They're still getting used to being family. Darwin and Charlotte are worried they'll end up back in the orphanage and Olive is searching for what's separated her father and abuela for so long. When they each discover portals to fantasy worlds they'll find out how family builds them up and has broken down their ancestors.

Appeals to

For fans of Wonderland, Narnia, Neverland and anyone who dreams of finding themselves in the faraway world of a book.

Creator Identities:

  • Race and/or Nationality: 6894
  • Sexuality: 7028

Main Character Identities:

  • Race and/or Nationality: 5873
  • Sexuality: 5366
Recommended by

Sunny Carito

I Was Their American Dream

Malaka Gharib

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Malaka grew up going between her Filipino family and her Egyptian father's homes while navigating their expectations of living the American dream and the reality of actually living in America. With witty observations and expressive, colorful art, this graphic memoir about family and coming of age will make you laugh and think!

Appeals to

Readers who enjoy memoirs that explore about the complexities of living in America (for example Almost American Girl )

Content Notes

Microaggressions

Creator Identities:

  • Race and/or Nationality: 6782, 6797

Main Character Identities:

  • Race and/or Nationality: 6567, 6573
Recommended by

Megan Rupe

Jukebox

Nidhi Chanani

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Shahi and her cousin Naz discover a magical jukebox that sent Shahi's father back in time. To find him, Shahi will have to get in touch with her father's favorite pastime: listening to old vinyl records.

Appeals to

Fans of Chanani's previous middle grade graphic novel Pashmina, anyone who enjoys realistic middle grade graphic novels with just a hint of fantasy

Creator Identities:

  • Race and/or Nationality: 6832

Main Character Identities:

  • Race and/or Nationality: 6544
  • Sexuality: 5364
Recommended by

Shira Pilarski

Kid Gloves

Lucy Knisley

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This graphic novel depicts Knisley's journey through her pregnancy with her first child. This part memoir and part cultural history of pregnancy is funny, smart, and unflinching in its honesty. Knisley address aspects of pregnancy and motherhood that are not frequently addressed in mainstream media, such as miscarriage, difficult symptoms related to pregnancy, and traumatic birth experiences. She handles all of these tough topic with care, without sugarcoating things.

Appeals to

Fans of Relish and Knisley's other works will enjoy this depiction of her transition into motherhood in her signature style.

Content Notes

miscarriage, traumatic birth experiences, near death experiences

Creator Identities:

  • Sexuality: 7027

Main Character Identities:

  • Sexuality: 5364
Recommended by

Tayla Cardillo

Life of Melody

Mari Costa

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A fairy and a troll beast find an abandoned baby in the forest and decide to raise it together. After a tumultuous start, they start to settle into a life where their focus is raising Melody; to their surprise, a love grows between them. When a summons threatens their peace, will they be able to find their way through?

Appeals to

Fans of stories about found family; readers who enjoy gentle fantasy such as the Tea Dragon Society and The Magic Fish

Creator Identities:

  • Race and/or Nationality: 6733

Main Character Identities:

  • Sexuality: 5362
Recommended by

Megan Rupe

Magic Fish

Trung Le Nguyen

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Not just a story of Tien and his mother bonding over learning to open up more to each other, but also a series of fables, and a look into how Tien's mother and her family got to America. It's a story of immigration, acceptance, and how culture can grow and change with time. Come for the story, stay for the stunning illustration.

Appeals to

This is an excellent choice for readers of fairytales, especially fairytale retellings. It's also a fantastic choice for readers looking for a story of a parent and child learning to accept and understand each other.

Content Notes

The main character experiences some bullying, and there's descriptions of cannibalism and abuse.

Creator Identities:

  • Race and/or Nationality: Vietnamese American
  • Sexuality: Queer

Main Character Identities:

  • Race and/or Nationality: Vietnamese American
  • Sexuality: Gay
Recommended by

Shannan Prukop

Measuring Up

Lily LaMotte

Ann Xu

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Cici misses her grandmother, who had to remain in Taiwan when Cici’s family moved to America. Determined to bring her grandmother to the States, Cici enters a cooking contest, which puts her at odds with her family’s expectations. Will Cici’s cooking skills be enough to win?

Appeals to

Readers looking for a warm, tender story about keeping family connections and navigating a new culture.

Creator Identities:

  • Race and/or Nationality: 6983

Main Character Identities:

  • Race and/or Nationality: 6644
Recommended by

Megan Rupe

My Brother's Husband

Gengoroh Tagame

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Yaichi is a stay-at-home dad focused on raising his daughter Kana on his own when he gets the news his twin Ryoji has died. Ryoji's husband Mike arrives in Japan, and Kana is immediately enthusiastic and welcoming while Yaichi wrestles with his complex feelings surrounding the fact that Ryoji and Mike were partners Together, Yaichi, Kana, and Mike forge a relationship while dealing with their family history and the homosexual bias in Japanese culture.

Appeals to

Readers looking for a touching and thoughtful slice of life drama

Content Notes

Nudity (but makes sense in context)

Creator Identities:

  • Race and/or Nationality: 6849
  • Sexuality: 7028

Main Character Identities:

  • Race and/or Nationality: 5397
  • Sexuality: 5362
Recommended by

Megan Rupe

Seven Secrets

Tom Taylor

Daniele DiNicuolo

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The Order has protected the Seven Secrets for millennia, and into this order is born Caspar. His mother and father both serving as Keeper and Holder for the Order, Caspar must find a place in the Order even as its enemies are bearing down on them and the secrets they possess.

Appeals to

Young adults who love action and adventure.

Content Notes

Within a candy coating of espionage and exotic locales is a heartfelt coming-of-age story.

Main Character Identities:

    Recommended by

    James Gardner

    Stepping Stones

    Lucy Knisley

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    Jen has had a lot of changes in her life: her parents divorced, and she now lives on a farm with her mom and her mom's new boyfriend. On top of having to deal with chickens and everything that comes with them, she also gets two part-time stepsisters, Andy and Reese. Can Jen figure out how to live with her new family and survive farm life?

    Appeals to

    Readers who like the family dynamics and coming of theme age themes in books such as Smile

    Recommended by

    Megan Rupe

    Sunny Side Up

    Jennifer Holm

    Matthew Holm

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    Sunny Lewin takes a trip to Florida to stay with her Grandfather, but it's not the exciting theme park filled summer she wanted. Sunny is escaping some difficult situations at home, but who has time to think about that when there are alligators and comic books!

    Appeals to

    Fans of Holm's other books who have aged out of Babymouse. People looking for a grandparent relationship on the page.

    Recommended by

    Shawn Norton

    The Best We Could Do

    Thi Bui

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    In this compelling memoir, Thi Bui explores her family's family history--including their eventual displacement from Vietnam to the United States--and reflects on how these experiences have shaped her and her family.

    Appeals to

    Readers looking for an excellent refugee memoir; fans of historical nonfiction graphic novels

    Creator Identities:

    • Race and/or Nationality: 7011

    Main Character Identities:

    • Race and/or Nationality: 5981
    Recommended by

    Megan Rupe

    The Okay Witch

    Emma Steinkellner

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    Like everyone else in Founder's Bluff, thirteen year old Moth knows all about the stories of the witch hunts back in the day. She didn't expect to discover that her own mother and grandmother were right at the center of those stories... and that Moth herself is a witch too! The Okay Witch tells a story of embracing your family's history, standing up for what is right, and the bond between parents and children. (Oh, and there's a talking cat.)

    Appeals to

    middle grade graphic novel lovers, fans of all things witchy, readers who like strong mother/daughter relationships

    Recommended by

    Meredith McGovern

    Tidesong

    Wendy Xu

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    A young witch, Sophia, is sent to stay with her estranged Great Aunt Lan and Aunt Sage in preparation for the entrance exam to the Royal Magic Academy. Sophia's anxiety about the upcoming exam and her own abilities threatens her relationships with her family and others around her. In a misguided attempt to prove herself, Sophia almost drowns and endangers the harmony between the witches and sea dragons, but her family and friends are there to offer support and wisdom. The beautifully illustrated novel explores the costs of long-held grudges and the power of family love and acceptance.

    Appeals to

    Middle-grade fantasy readers (along with any fan of Hayao Miyazaki's Studio Ghibli films) will love the world-building, characters, and illustrations in Tidesong.

    Creator Identities:

    • Race and/or Nationality: 6756

    Twins

    Varian Johnson

    Shannon Wright

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    Maureen is nervous about starting middle school, but at least she has her twin sister Francine. They've always done everything together. But then Francine starts pulling away, taking different classes and joining different clubs. How is Maureen supposed to handle this? Well, by running against her sister for student president, for a start . . .

    Appeals to

    Fans of Raina Telgemeier's books and other realistic fiction about family, friends, and middle school drama.

    Content Notes

    While the word “racism” is not used, it is clearly in play during one incident at the mall when a white store clerk brushes off Maureen and her friends (all POC), making it clear she does not take them seriously as customers. Refreshingly, there are consequences: the clerk is reprimanded by customers, who decide to shop elsewhere. By the end of the book, the shop’s “Store Close Out Sale” sign is visible in the background of one panel.

    Creator Identities:

    • Race and/or Nationality: 6704

    Main Character Identities:

    • Race and/or Nationality: 6535
    Recommended by

    Nic Willcox

    When Stars are Scattered

    Victoria Jamieson

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    Omar and his brother, Hassan, grow up in the Dadaab refugee camp after they are separated from their mother in Somalia. An older woman in the camp takes in the brothers and care for them like family. The graphic memoir follows their difficult life at the refugee camp. Food and water are not readily accessible and medical care is scarce. Omar is given the opportunity to go to school, but that means leaving his brother behind every day. It is an intimate and moving story about family and resiliency.

    Appeals to

    Middle grade and tween graphic novel readers, along with anyone who wants to learn more about the refugee experience, will appreciate this heartwarming graphic memoir.

    Creator Identities:

    • Race and/or Nationality: 6962

    Main Character Identities:

    • Race and/or Nationality: 5712
    Recommended by

    Emily Bredberg

    Where's Halmoni?

    Julie Kim

    Cover Image

    When Joon and Noona find their halmoni (grandmother) has gone missing, they enter a magical world to find her again.

    Appeals to

    Fans of other world fantasy, as well as Korean folk tales and mythology.

    Creator Identities:

    • Race and/or Nationality: 6858

    Main Character Identities:

    • Race and/or Nationality: 5871
    Recommended by

    Shira Pilarski

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