Graphic Novel Review: A Map To The Sun by Sloane Leong

A Map To The Sun by Sloane Leong. First Second, 2020. 9781250146687. 364pp. including early character sketches at the back.

One summer, while playing basketball at the beach, Ren meets Luna, a surfer from Hawaii, and they become inseparable friends. But that only lasts the summer. Luna disappears back to Hawaiia and stops answering texts. In fact Ren doesn’t hear from her until two years later, when she moves back to California and starts attending Ren’s high school. Luna expects them to be close again immediately, but Ren is more than reluctant. When a new teacher forms the school’s first girls basketball team, they both join with three other girls. All of them have issues, but they’re also not defined by them. As they practice, improve their skills, and even start winning some games, they all become closer, including Ren and Luna. But there’s a lot of f’d up stuff going on, least of which may be the coach of the boys team trying to get the girls team to disband so the boys can have access to all of their high school’s meager financial resources. At the center of it all Ren is dealing with family stress, with a sister who is in serious trouble because of bad decisions and substance abuse, and who draws everyone into her problems.

Leong’s brightly, strikingly colored images and pages (even the gutters between panels look cool) took a bit of getting used to, but by the time I reached the pages with the first beach basketball game I absolutely loved the art. So beautiful. This is one of my favorite YA graphic novels ever for its pacing and the way the story flows.


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