Stone Fruit

Fantagraphics. May 2021. 236p. ISBN 9781683964261. $24.99. GRAPHIC NOVELS
DEBUT Queer couple Ray and Bron spend their weekly hangouts with Ray’s six-year-old niece Nessie running carefree through the woods and singing nonsense songs with abandon. Whenever they return Nessie to her mother—Ray’s seemingly disapproving sister Amanda—the couple’s relationship turns fraught and tense. When Bron leaves Ray to reunite with her devoutly religious, emotionally repressed family, Ray is devastated at being abandoned by the one person with whom she felt capable of experiencing true intimacy. With nowhere else to turn, she begins spending more time with Amanda and discovers that her own struggles have made her ignorant of the pressure her sister experiences as a single mother. Meanwhile, Bron, who’s frustrated by her mother’s refusal to accept her sexuality or engage in a conversation about her history of mental illness, ponders an uncertain future.
VERDICT Lai presents a tender and emotionally raw examination of three women struggling to form and maintain their identities within and outside of their immediate family, illustrated in a loosely expressive style that conveys both bombastic catharsis and silent anguish with aplomb.
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