Graphic Novel Review: Sunburn by Andi Watson and Simon Gane

Sunburn by Andi Watson (story) and Simon Gane (art). Image, 2022. 9781534322332. Publisher’s Rating: T+ / Teen Plus.

Rachel’s mother runs into a friend, Diane, whom she hasn’t seen in years, and Diane and her husband Peter invite Rachel to spend the summer with them on an island in Greece. (Rachel’s dad seems to think she should spend the summer working for the local butcher as planned, but he quickly gives in.)
Peter picks up Rachel when she gets off the boat and drives her to their villa where she meets Diane, who is super excited she’s there. They can’t believe how much she’s grown up (Rachel is sixteen) and insist Rachel treat their place like a home or hotel room, coming and going as she pleases. Diane gives Rachel nice clothes to wear and alcohol to drink and anticipates a romantic summer for her. They take her to parties and Diane introduces Rachel to the only other young person there, Benjamin. And of course he and Rachel hit it off and start hanging out, and things do get romantic as she tries to teach him to swim. But there’s something off with all of the partying and hanging out, and it turns out Benjamin and others have secrets.
This is a book I’d give to adults and that some teens would find compelling. Gane’s art makes me want to visit Greece (or at least this island in the Greece-that-was of the undefined time this book takes place in, maybe during the 60s or 70s) with its white buildings and nearly traffic-free streets.

I’m a huge fan of Watson’s graphic novels, and I enjoyed this one enormously. So I’m off to read his other graphic novel that Image published last year,┬áParis, which was also drawn by Gane.


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