Stone fruit

Lee Lai, 1993-

Book - 2021

"Bron and Ray are a queer couple who enjoy their role as the fun weirdo aunties to Ray's niece, six-year-old Nessie. Their playdates are little oases of wildness, joy, and ease in all three of their lives, which ping-pong between familial tensions and deep-seeded personal stumbling blocks. As their emotional intimacy erodes, Ray and Bron isolate from each other and attempt to repair their broken family ties -- Ray with her overworked, resentful single-mother sister and Bron with her re...ligious teenage sister who doesn't fully grasp the complexities of gender identity. Taking a leap of faith, each opens up and learns they have more in common with their siblings than they ever knew."--Publisher's description.

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GRAPHIC NOVEL/Lai
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Subjects
Genres
Graphic novels
Comics (Graphic works)
Domestic comics
Gay comics
Published
Seattle, WA : Fantagraphics 2021.
Edition
First Fantagraphics Books edition
Language
English
Physical Description
231 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
ISBN
9781683964261
1683964268
Main Author
Lee Lai, 1993- (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* Athena-like, Lai bursts onto the graphic scene fully formed and utterly realized with this jaw-dropping debut. Her stunning artistry and complex narrative skills prove inextricably stupendous in a story about all kinds of love—between lovers, of course, but also between complicated extended family. "Things were best when Nessie was about six," the opening page declares. "We were at our best, for a while, anyway." Turn the page and suddenly three monsters-in-motion command pages of panels, filled with fine-lined, stretched, and stylized figures in a limited palette, until a phone call momentarily transforms one of the beasts into a woman long enough for her to tell a few lies. That "best" is wild, uninhibited outdoor playtime with young Nessie and her aunties, Ray and Bron. But reality proves unavoidable when Ray must return Nessie to her sister, Amanda—a single mother who begrudgingly tolerates Ray and is especially disapproving of Ray's relationship with Bron. Break-up feels inevitable as Bron leaves to attempt a reconciliation with her own estranged parents who, like Amanda, have been quick to judge and dismiss. Mourning pervades all the various relationships, with Nessie's suffering perhaps most poignant of all, as a young child caught in the emotional struggles of all the adults she loves most. Raw, intricate, and impassioned, Lai's resonating accomplishment proves astonishing. Copyright 2021 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

DEBUT Queer couple Ray and Bron spend their weekly hangouts with Ray's six-year-old niece Nessie running carefree through the woods and singing nonsense songs with abandon. Whenever they return Nessie to her mother—Ray's seemingly disapproving sister Amanda—the couple's relationship turns fraught and tense. When Bron leaves Ray to reunite with her devoutly religious, emotionally repressed family, Ray is devastated at being abandoned by the one person with whom she felt capable of experiencing true intimacy. With nowhere else to turn, she begins spending more time with Amanda and discovers that her own struggles have made her ignorant of the pressure her sister experiences as a single mother. Meanwhile, Bron, who's frustrated by her mother's refusal to accept her sexuality or engage in a conversation about her history of mental illness, ponders an uncertain future. VERDICT Lai presents a tender and emotionally raw examination of three women struggling to form and maintain their identities within and outside of their immediate family, illustrated in a loosely expressive style that conveys both bombastic catharsis and silent anguish with aplomb. Copyright 2021 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

The central couple in Lai's subtly layered graphic novel debut appear in its first panels as feral creatures with giant, elongated catlike eyes and sharp teeth, chasing through the woods with their equally monstrous niece, Nessie. A phone call from Nessie's mother transports them back to the real world, and turns them and back into women—anxious, emotive Rachel and reticent, depressive Bron. But the motif of transformation is threaded throughout the story of their family dynamics, and echoed in Lai's fluid, blue-gray illustrations. Tension builds: Rachel's sister (Nessie's mom) isn't fond of Bron, and Bron misses her estranged family but doesn't know how to talk about her feelings. During a three-month separation, each looks to their family of origin for answers. Rachel describes Bron's parents as "waspy Christian maniacs" who never came to terms with their daughter's gender transition. Bron's dad sees Rachel as "that angry Chinese girl." Yet the women's youthful us-against-the-world mentality is wearing thin: "All the structures we'd built together suddenly felt unbearably fragile," Rachel observes. Lai's cinematic juxtapositions and dreamlike fugues give visual structure to a breakup story that's heavy on processing, sharpening its edges. Lai also skillfully captures the ways family dynamics and histories play out in romantic relationships, and how heavy those legacies can land. The result is a poignant and mature rumination on how people change, and change each other, proving Lai a talent well worth watching. (May) Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

The central couple in Lai's subtly layered graphic novel debut appear in its first panels as feral creatures with giant, elongated catlike eyes and sharp teeth, chasing through the woods with their equally monstrous niece, Nessie. A phone call from Nessie's mother transports them back to the real world, and turns them and back into women—anxious, emotive Rachel and reticent, depressive Bron. But the motif of transformation is threaded throughout the story of their family dynamics, and echoed in Lai's fluid, blue-gray illustrations. Tension builds: Rachel's sister (Nessie's mom) isn't fond of Bron, and Bron misses her estranged family but doesn't know how to talk about her feelings. During a three-month separation, each looks to their family of origin for answers. Rachel describes Bron's parents as "waspy Christian maniacs" who never came to terms with their daughter's gender transition. Bron's dad sees Rachel as "that angry Chinese girl." Yet the women's youthful us-against-the-world mentality is wearing thin: "All the structures we'd built together suddenly felt unbearably fragile," Rachel observes. Lai's cinematic juxtapositions and dreamlike fugues give visual structure to a breakup story that's heavy on processing, sharpening its edges. Lai also skillfully captures the ways family dynamics and histories play out in romantic relationships, and how heavy those legacies can land. The result is a poignant and mature rumination on how people change, and change each other, proving Lai a talent well worth watching. (May) Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

"Bron and Ray are a queer couple who enjoy their role as the fun weirdo aunties to Ray's niece, six-year-old Nessie. Their playdates are little oases of wildness, joy, and ease in all three of their lives, which ping-pong between familial tensions and deep-seeded personal stumbling blocks. As their emotional intimacy erodes, Ray and Bron isolate from each other and attempt to repair their broken family ties -- Ray with her overworked, resentful single-mother sister and Bron with her religious teenage sister who doesn't fully grasp the complexities of gender identity. Taking a leap of faith, each opens up and learns they have more in common with their siblings than they ever knew."--Publisher's description.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

2022 ALA Stonewall Award Honor Book2022 Lambda Literary Award Finalist, LGBTQ Comics2022 Cartoonist Studio Prize2021 National Book Foundation "5 Under 35" HonoreeBron and Ray are a queer couple who enjoy their role as the fun weirdo aunties to Ray’s niece, six-year-old Nessie. Their playdates are little oases of wildness, joy, and ease in all three of their lives, which ping-pong between familial tensions and deep-seeded personal stumbling blocks. As their emotional intimacy erodes, Ray and Bron isolate from each other and attempt to repair their broken family ties — Ray with her overworked, resentful single-mother sister and Bron with her religious teenage sister who doesn’t fully grasp the complexities of gender identity. Taking a leap of faith, each opens up and learns they have more in common with their siblings than they ever knew.Stone Fruit

Review by Publisher Summary 3

An exhilarating and tender debut graphic novel that is an ode to the love and connection shared among three women and the child they all adore.