Losing the Girl: Book 1
Claudia Jones is missing. Her classmates are thinking the worst . . . or at least the weirdest. It couldn't be an alien abduction, right?
None of Claudia's classmates at Blithedale High know why she vanished--and they're dealing with their own issues. Emily's trying to handle a life-changing surprise. Paula's hoping to step out of Emily's shadow. Nigel just wants to meet a girl who will laugh at his jokes. And Brett hardly lets himself get close to anybody.
In Losing the Girl, the first book in the Life on Earth trilogy, Eisner-nominated cartoonist MariNaomi looks at life through the eyes of four suburban teenagers: early romance, fraying friendships, and the traces of a mysterious--maybe otherworldly--disappearance. Different chapters focus on different characters, each with a unique visual approach.
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About the Author
MariNaomi is the award-winning author and illustrator of four comic memoirs and creator of the Cartoonists of Color database. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and many cats and dogs. Visit her website at marinaomi.com.
"Losing the Girl is a sparkling and complex novel with its feet on the ground and its eyes on the stars. MariNaomi shows great empathy for her characters, even as she refuses to sugarcoat the complexity of being a teen. Highly recommended!"--Hope Larson, author of Compass South and Knife's Edge--Other Print
"Nigel wants Emily, but she wants Brett, whom Paula also desires. MariNaomi's tale of teen angst, love, and self-discovery explores how these characters intersect while ever so slowly chipping away at a bigger plot around the disappearance of their classmate Claudia, which will be explored further in future volumes of this trilogy. In her graphic novel debut, MariNaomi practices various forms of minimalism, abstracting details until readers are left with the mere essences of the characters as they interact. MariNaomi's artwork is anything but typical; as the book shifts among the characters' viewpoints, so too does the artistic style. Nigel's story uses grayscale coloring and thin lines, Emily's features thick linework and black-and-white coloring, Brett's monochromatic watercolor, and Paula's cross-hatching. Spread throughout, these creative artistic effects amplify the tension and awkward emotions, transforming a familiar story of young love into something memorable and new."--Publishers Weekly--Journal
"Nobody knows why 14-year-old Claudia Jones vanished, but for one group of teens, her disappearance is just one more mystery in a summer full of uncertainty. Something strange is in the air at Blithedale High School. Troubled by his parents' separation, Nigel, a black teen, craves the attention of girls. His luck turns when he begins a brief romance with Japanese-American Emily, but his aggressively jokey persona ends up repelling her. Emily, meanwhile, wants Brett, a white boy, to notice her. He harbors his own unrequited crush, but a relationship of sorts flares up between them anyway. When Emily becomes pregnant, the unexpected ordeal isolates her from Brett and her friends, including Paula, who is Latina. Having broken up with her abusive boyfriend, Paula grapples with her complicated feelings for Emily. These entanglements form the emotionally charged core of this gripping, affecting graphic novel. Each chapter highlights a different character's perspective, and the style of the artwork changes to match each character's personality, with simple and expressive black-and-white pictures brimming with exaggerated gestures and reactions. An eerie streak runs through the narrative: Was Claudia abducted by aliens, as some schoolmates suggest? The next volume promises more developments and more mysteries. A moody, compassionate reflection of adolescence in turmoil."--Kirkus Reviews--Journal
"MariNaomi authentically captures the angst, vulnerability, and longing of the teenage soul through not just one but four unique and distinct voices."--Jen Wang, The Prince and the Dressmaker--Other Print
"This first installment in the 'Life on Earth' series follows four teenagers at Blithedale High along their adolescent journeys with all the joys, agonies, and oddities that usually accompany them--with a few twists. Nigel tries a little too hard, and the girls are laughing at him, not with him. Emily finally catches the attention of her crush, but what will happen when things go too far too fast? Paula would give anything to get out of Emily's shadow. Brett wants the one girl he knows he can't have, and the girl he doesn't love is the only one right in front of him. Meanwhile, the teens discuss the disappearance of a classmate, Claudia Jones. Was she abducted by aliens? Each character comes in contact with something mysterious and inexplicable. Part 1 of the trilogy leaves most of the characters in cliff-hanger situations that beg for a sequel. The artwork is simplistic, like idle doodling, and while it propels the plot at a lightning pace, it disconnects readers from the characters at times. When the narrative does slow, some of the more intense scenes are carefully drawn out for emotional impact. MariNaomi skillfully weaves webs of intrigue, and fans of suspenseful graphic novels will be interested in how events play out. Enjoyable but not earth-shattering--for libraries that need to build up their graphic novel collections."
"The first title in MariNaomi's Life on Earth graphic novel trilogy pushes past the expected elements of setup and well into what promises to be an involving drama. Against a backdrop of a missing persons case--the disappearance of Blithedale freshman math genius Claudia Jones--a quartet of sophomores who knew Claudia only by reputation are swirling in their own maelstrom of jealousies, unrequited loves and lusts, and abusive relationships. Nigel crushes on Emily, but his clunky sense of humor is completely off-putting. Emily crushes on Brett, who responds to her advances and gets her pregnant but is unable to offer even cursory emotional support. Emily's bestie Paula has finally dragged herself out from under the psychological (and likely physical) abuse of Darren and is making a futile play for Brett. In the eerily calm eye of this sturm und drang is the kids' nascent awareness that they may be spotting Claudia in disguise around town, and her dis- and reappearance may have an extraterrestrial cause. Although plot description suggests quotidian teen angst with a genre twist, the slyly naïve yet sophisticated artwork, mostly in black and white, launches it to a higher level. MariNaomi keeps readers at a voyeuristic distance through perspectives that casts characters as objects on a floor plan (complete with directive arrows and stage direction asides), while tracking their wrenching emotional turmoil by reconfiguring hair and body shapes, disembodying heads and limbs, and even disappearing them altogether from frames that feature only wisps of dialogue. Bursts of sizzling yellow and magenta invade closing scenes and hint of preternatural things to come; readers will be waiting."--The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books--Journal
"It's hard to describe exactly what's going on in Losing the Girl. There are some odd things, to be sure: The sudden and complete disappearance of a 14-year-old prodigy, the loss of everyone's cell phone reception. But the suburban teens at the heart of this story barely take note of these events as they deal with their much more traditional interpersonal relationships and difficult decisions. I'm sure the background attractions are building to something spectacular, but for now I'm content to soak in the vivid atmosphere as the characters connect to and detach from one another, adrift in manner akin to MariNaomi's constantly shifting art styles. It's been a long time since I've been this excited for a sequel."--Sarah Holt, Left Bank Books--Website