Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me by Mariko Tamaki
Publisher: First Second
Copyright Date: 2019
Reading Age: 14-18
Reading Level: Grades 8-12
Awards: Eisner Awards, Harvey Award, Ignatz Awards, Printz Honor Book
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Subgenre: Romance Comic
Young love can be so all-encompassing. One can lose themselves in the other person, striving to be who that person wants them to be. Frederica Riley is dating her dream girl. Laura Dean is attractive, charming—the most popular person in high school. But Laura Dean keeps breaking up with Freddy, shattering Freddy's heart only to pick up the pieces and ingratiate herself back into Frederica's life. After Freddy's best friend takes her to see a medium, she begins to see how toxic her relationship with Laura Dean might be, but it can be hard to free oneself from that perfect ideal.
Sometimes the dream of a person does not reflect their reality. Laura Dean is Freddy's dream girl, containing the personality traits that Freddy feels are so important to who she is attracted to. In reality, Laura Dean is selfish and manipulative, using Freddy when she wants to feel needed and casting Freddy aside when she doesn't. The exploration of coming to terms with the reality of a first love as opposed to the wants and expectations of that first love are part of what makes Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me so compelling. The reader can tell that the relationship is toxic and rails for Freddy to recognize that, too. Seeing that controlling behavior can be hard for people who are in a relationship, though easy for those who are outside of it. That is an important point of this book, letting those who may have never experienced this type of control and abuse to see how it looks from the inside. The cotton candy sweetness of the the coloring in the art reflects the saccharine nature of Laura Dean as well as the rose colored glasses Frederica is desperate to keep over her eyes. The coming to terms of a toxic relationship is important for teens to read and experience through the art, as well as Freddy's eventual realization that her own thoughts and feelings are important, too. This is a book about relationships, both of friendship and romantically, analyzing what is healthy and what should be left behind.
Laura Dean is the cutest, the coolest, the most charming person in high school. If she's so amazing, why does she keep stringing Freddy along?
About the Author
Mariko Tamaki is a Canadian writer of comics and prose. She lives in Oakland.
Her graphic novels include Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me, with Rosemary Valero O’Connell, Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass, with Steve Pugh, Skim and This One Summer, with Jillian Tamaki. She has received Doug Wright, Eisner and Ignatz Awards as well as Caldecott and Printz Honors for her works. She has had the pleasure of working for Marvel, DC Comics, Abrams, Dark Horse and BOOM! Studios on various amazing superhero type things.
You can read all about her adventures at marikotamaki.blogspot.com.
(About the author from here and here. Image from here.)
Talk about the color choices used in the art of Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me.
Discuss how hard it can be to let go of beliefs about a person in order to see who they really are.
Challenge issues: LGBTQIA+, underage drinking, abortion, strong language
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This graphic novel explores the universal experience of being in an unequal relationship where one person has all the power and control and the other is always scrambling to keep their partner's attention. Frederica allows the toxic relationship to continue because she sees Laura Dean as her dream girl. Readers see how young love might not always be supportive love and grow with Freddy to a place where self acceptance is important.