Graphic Novel Reviews: Waves by Ingrid Chabbert and Carole Maurel + In Waves by AJ Dungo

Waves by Ingrid Chabbert, Illustrated by Carole Maurel. Translated by Edward Gauvin. Archaia, 2019. 9781684153466. 93pp.

This is Ingrid Chabbert’s account of losing her baby boy, who died shortly after he was born. Following his death, this graphic novel shifts from beautiful colors to black and white, though color slowly works its way back into the lives of Chabbert and her partner as they learn to live with their grief, and as Chabbert finishes the book she was working on for her son. This is a beautifully succinct graphic novel.


In Waves by AJ Dungo. Nobrow, 2019. 9781910620632. 373pp with a bibliography.

Dungo alternates the story of the love of his life (and her death from cancer) with a brief history of surfing that begins in the Hawaiian islands in 1800. Kristin liked surfing, and while Dungo doesn’t claim to be an expert about its history, his illustrations do an amazing job of showing how it makes him and Kristin feel, whether it’s her last time on the water or when he’s paddled out past the surf after her death. The story of their romance is nonlinear, their first kiss in the rain coming at the beginning of the book as he starts to write about her death eight years later. The two page spread that follows, of Dungo staring at the empty ocean, sitting on a board, is masterful — he’s alone, mourning silently. Then he’s remembering trying to get her attention, how he finally did, her diagnosis, her death, a trip up the West Coast. The story is full of joy and love and sadness, and made me feel it all while teaching me about surfing.

Worth noting: the chapters on the history of surfing could be used for a research paper by middle and high school students, and there’s nothing in this book that should keep it out of school library collections.


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