Will & Whit by Laura Lee Gulledge
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
“Will & Whit” is not a love story, though the cover sort of tricks you into thinking it might be. Though, I guess in a way, it is a love story, but not one of romantic love. More about the love with share with our family and friends and how it supports us.
The story is about Will, short for Wilhelmina. It’s the summer before her senior year of high school, so she has the worries and stress that goes along with knowing that that part of her life will be coming to an end soon. She leads us through her day to day life, introduces us to her close group of friends, and talks to us about her hobby of building lamps from random artifacts. She confesses she is “afraid of the dark” but you know immediately, by the way the shadows loom behind her, that there is more to this statement than a simple childhood fear. Something happened to Will, something painful that she doesn’t even want the reader to know about. Then the storm hits
What I love about Laura Lee Gulledge is that she knows how to use the graphic novel format to its fullest, not just illustrating her story, but by layering each panel with meaning and using the artwork to progress the story. It doesn’t hurt that her style is just gorgeous and very accessible. You can tell the characters apart, even in black & white. You can interpret their feelings as they smile and smirk and frown.
At first I thought black & white was an odd choice, especially when Will describes the dyed color of her aunt’s hair and how her best friend is obsessed with blue. But when the big storm comes and knocks out the power, leaving Will surrounded by shadows, the grayscale of the page is more powerful than a full-color page with muted tones would have been.
While it doesn’t quite reach the level of awesome for as Page by Paige, this is another enjoyable read for teens and adults that is a fine example of the graphic novel format and the potential for a different kind of storytelling hidden within.