Graphic Novel review: Northern Girl by Isobel Harrop

You guys; I loved this book. This was the first graphic novel I ever picked up to read (I’m not sure reading over your brother’s shoulder as he reads Marvel really counts) and boy, am I glad I did.

Northern Girl is a collection of drawings and musings from ordinary British teenager, Isobel. The book is divided into three sections: Me, Friends, College and Art and Love. The book is a little like a scrapbook, Isobel filling it with drawings and notes based on her musings, her conversations and her own inner monologue. Her thoughts and comments range from Beyoncé to her drawing skills, to getting over boys, to how she feels about shaving her legs.

Harrop manages to convey accurately the quiet, comforting sort of monotony that comes with living in a small British town. Having grown up in one myself, I recognise the push and pull feeling that comes with it: it can be frustrating and very dull to live somewhere small in the British countryside, especially as a teenager when your means of escape are limited. And yet, there’s something reassuring about its smallness, about knowing you know where it begins and ends. There a wonderful sense throughout the book that Isobel is trying to determine who she is and that she’s figuring it out through the words and pictures she’s brought together in the book. It rang true for me and my own experiences as a teenager.

Being light on dialogue and relatively short, I read my way through this in half an hour. But it’s not really the sort of book that you read once, put on the shelf and forget about. It’s a book to revisit several times over, flipping to the pages that are relevant to you that day, using it for inspiration and reminiscing about your own teen years. I look forward to going back to it for many years to come!

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