Aya by Marguerite Abouet & Clement Oubrerie It’s 1978 in the Ivory Coast, a good and prosperous time. Teenage Aya is growing up with her two best friends, Adjoua and Bintou. Aya studies hard and wants to be a doctor, while Adjoua and Bintou are more interested in going out dancing and meeting boys. Aya’s father agrees more with Adjoua and Bintou that marriage is the best ambition for a girl, as he tries to arrange a marriage for Aya with his wealthy boss’s skirt-chasing son. She’s not interested, but both Adjoua and Bintou, who’ve met him out dancing, are. It’s a slice of life from an Africa that, rare for Westerners to see, isn’t desperate, though the differences in culture and setting are especially apparent in the graphic novel format. The story (not too uncommonly for graphic novels, seemingly collected for size rather than neat plot arcs from comic books) ends rather abruptly, but there is a sequel. I bought it for the adult collection mostly because it’s a little more thoughtful than our teens tend to go for; still, there is nothing inappropriate for teens here, and plenty for them to relate to. The straightforward panel layouts and narration make this an easy starting point for those less familiar with comics, as well.
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