Will and Whit (by Laura Lee Gulledge: Juvenile Graphic) © 2013

Rating: 4/5

Description (from the Publisher): Wilhelmina“Will” Huxstep is a creative soul struggling to come to terms with a family tragedy. She crafts whimsical lamps, in part to deal with her fear of the dark. As she wraps up another summer in her mountain town, she longs for unplugged adventures with her fellow creative friends, Autumn, Noel, and Reese. Little does she know that she will get her wish in the form of an arts carnival and a blackout, courtesy of a hurricane named Whitney, which forces Will to face her fear of darkness.

Review: Willhemena, Will to her friends and family, is planning on spending a perfectly quiet summer working at her aunt’s antiques shop, making lamps and spending time with her friends. She openly admits that she is afraid of the dark though we don’t know the reason behind her fear. Is it a phobia or has some big event triggered her panic? Readers don’t know for sure until Will slowly starts to break down her walls which is catalyzed by two fateful events quickly steer her plans off course: a chance meeting with a group of teens who are putting together an eclectic carnival and a savage summer storm named Whitney that will plunge her town into a prolonged blackout in its wake.
Forced to confront her fears of the dark, both literal and figurative, Will finds herself stronger and happier than she could have imagined. Peppered with pop-culture references from Doctor Who to The Hunger Games and supported by Gulledge’s stylish and life-like black-and-white illustrations, this sophomore graphic novel is upbeat despite Will’s tragedy. The chapters are short and pack a lot of visual metaphors and foreshadowing of the tragedy that haunts Will. Will is an intensely likable character, as are her funky group of friends. I love how this book focuses on trauma and creativity, strength in community, and insightful truths that don’t come off sounding too preachy. Quirky, intelligent, and fresh, Will and Whit is another winner from Laura Lee Gulledge and I can’t wait to see what she has lined up next.

If you like this book try: Page by Paige by Laura Lee Gulledge and  Drama by Raina Telgeimer

Reviewed by: Rummanah

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