Rounding out all-ages week, we move to a YA comic (which, I realize it technically not all-ages, but it is still an underrepresented segment, so I’m saying it counts).
Page by Paige is the YALSA nominated graphic novel, chronicling the life of sixteen-year-old Paige Turner, who has just been relocated to New York City and wants nothing more than to fit in and figure out her life. She does this largely through an autobiographical sketchbook.
The book comes in two distinct tones and art styles. One, is the narration of Paige’s life, and is drawn in a clear black and white, reminiscent of David Hahn or a slightly more cartoony Jamie McKelvie. The other half, woven seamlessly into the narrative, are the drawings from Paige’s journal. They are softer, done in, what to my non-artist eye, looks almost like black and white watercolor and beautifully surreal. They express Paige’s inner turmoil: her frustration with her mom, her fears of fitting in, her hesitation to share her work. But through this, we get the whole story. It becomes not just a story of one girl moving to a new city, but the story of all of our teenaged selves, expressed through the imagined art of Paige Turner (though the real art of the talented Laura Lee Gulledge).
As much as all comics are art and pictures working together, the premise of Page by Paige makes this concept even stronger. The story would not be complete without Paige’s sketchbook. Sure, there are other ways to express teen angst and the human experience through narration and action, but it would not have come across in such a personal way. And since Gulledge draws both the story and Paige’s diary pages, the two parts are so integrated you truly get the sense that this is a story Paige is telling you herself. It’s how she sees herself and the world around her. The Paige you see in the day-to-day pages looks just like the Paige you see in her own sketches. It is a story of introspection. At turns hilarious and heartbreaking, Paige’s first person narrative says everything we always thought when we were teens and everything teens probably wish they could say to us now.
With a story we can all relate to and a storytelling device that adds new poignancy to a familiar tale, I would highly recommend Page by Paige to anyone looking for a sweet, heartwarming story either for yourself or for any teen in your life.
TL;DR Page by Paige is a heartwarming story about creativity, first loves, best friends and learning to communicate with your parents (a skill I’m sure some of us still haven’t mastered). Told with two distinct art styles this beautifully done book is a great gift for any teen in your life, and a sweet read for any adult, remembering their 16-year-old angst.
Page by Paige is written and illustrated by Laura Lee Gulledge, published by Amulet Books. You can purchase a signed copy of the book through Gulledge’s website, or you can support Spandexless by purchasing your copy through our web store.