A Gift for a Ghost

Comic Arts: Abrams. May 2020. 128p. ISBN 9781419740138. $24.99. Rated: Teen+. F
In 1856, a young woman named Teresa frustrates her family by spending more time writing strange poems about vampires, ghouls, and flaming velocipedes than preparing for her society debut. In 2016, a group of high school girls starts a band called the Black Holes, even though none of them can play an instrument, and they spend more time wandering around a nearby lake at night than practicing. One of them, Laura, writes lyrics that sound like “the Brontë Sisters giving a talk about a study on the thermonuclear fusion of stars.” Spanish cartoonist González establishes a complex web of plot and thematic connections bridging the 160 years that separate these story lines using a variety of techniques—an orange cat drifts from a scene in one era into a key moment set in another, dialog overlaps, a shoreline shares the same contours as a butterfly wing. Eventually, a desperate act committed in one era directly impacts characters in the other, setting one character free and shattering another.
VERDICT Elegantly crafted, with delicate cartooning and a brilliant autumnal color palette, González’s first full-length work delivers a quietly emotional evocation of the universal hopes and desires linking characters across centuries.

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