Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me is nothing like you’d expect and everything you didn’t know you needed. It follows a shy teen named Freddy in her attempt to finally break up with her manipulative girlfriend, the titular Laura Dean, and the affect her slow path to self-discovery has on her closest friends. To be honest, I assumed from the title that this book was about a dude and his girlfriend Laura, cause I’ve been brainwashed by a heteronormative society.
While Mariko Tamaki’s writing is legendary, Rosemary Valero-O’Connell’s art is what makes Laura Dean special. In composition (panel size, color palette and speech bubbles) her work is evocative of Tillie Walden, which I love! However, her art style is extremely different, using clean lines and bold shading, which I also love! The detail in her crowd scenes is INSANE, tons of unique people filling space, which was almost overwhelming but mostly awesomely immersive.
The queerness soaked into every page of Laura Dean was wonderful. Each character was unapologetically “abnormal” looking, whether that meant androgyny, cool hair or a backward hat. Every main character was queer as well, including all of Freddy’s friends, which was refreshingly real. I was pleased with the lack of a token straight friend and pleased with the general lack of cishet people. It was nice, okay!
Reading Laura Dean was the perfect way to spend an afternoon, and will no doubt be the way I spend future ones. Not only has Mariko Tamaki turned out another masterpiece, but Rosemary Valero-O’Connell has more than proven her worth to play with the big dogs. Engaging and beautiful, with a unique message that pushes it onto my favorites list, Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me brought me more joy and satisfaction that I’ve gotten out of a book in a long time.
For fans of: Spinning by Tillie Walden, Bloom by Kevin Panetta, The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang
Review by: Ivy