True-to-life tween comics have seen wonderful growth in recent years. (Thank you Raina Telgemeier!) They feature kids dealing with real issues such as making friends and getting braces. Brave by Svetlana Chmakova is an excellent addition to this genre and already one of my favorite graphic novels of 2017. The story introduces us to a middle school student named Jensen. While he daydreams of heroically saving his friends from zombie hordes and becoming a NASA astronaut, in reality Jensen is a geeky, overweight kid who struggles with math and making friends. His day is a barrage of tough classes and dodging bullies in hopes of reaching his art club friends after school. But even his friends seem to forget him at times. At its core, Brave is a story about bullying and calls for people to treat each other with empathy. While dealing with big issues, the book is also fun and filled with good characterizations that are enhanced by Chmakova’s expressive, manga-influenced artwork. This book will definitely appeal to fans of Raina Telgemeier and would make a good discussion book for tween and teen readers. Readers may also want to check out Awkward by Chmakova which features many of the same characters, although it is not necessary to read both to enjoy Brave.

Nick Fagan is the Mobile Services manager. He is currently reading Final Girls by Riley Sager.
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