Graphic Novel Review: Stone Fruit by Lee Lai
Posted on November 25, 2021 at 7:11 am by Gene Ambaum
Stone Fruit by Lee Lai. Fantagraphics, 2021. 9781683964261. 232pp.
Ray and her girlfriend Bron care for Rachel’s niece, Nessie, on Tuesdays and Thursdays. They’re wild days full of love and made up songs. But on non-Nessie days things are strained between Ray and Bron. Bron feels depressed and lost, and hates that Ray seems to want to save her. Spending time with Nessie makes them hang onto their relationship for a few extra months, but then Bron decides to leave, to go back home to stay with her conservative, religious family, the same people who once tried to convince her she wasn’t trans.
Ray is devastated. And when she tries to back out of her commitment to help her sister Amanda by watching Nessie two days a week, both sisters call each other on their shit and start to talk in a way that they haven’t in years. At the same time Bron is reconnecting with her younger sister, and even with her parents a bit.
This graphic novel is so damned good. Lai is a master of the four-panel comics page, and uses the format to pace the conversations in a way that makes them feel real. I love all of the art, but I particularly admire the pages where Bron and Ray and Nessie seem to transform into feral monsters while playing together. Lai leaves them unexplained, and what’s happening is only clear in the context of conversations later in the book.