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Book 2 of the Aya series (thoughts on the first one here) about four families in Yopougon, a neighborhood of Abidjan, Ivory’s Coast’s capital. It’s set in the 70s, when the country’s was going through an economic boom and it continues to be refreshing to see a side of modern Africa that’s not filled with war and AIDS. If you know of any other comics like these let me know.
Like Book 1, it’s not an action-packed story. I’m actually approaching it as a really smart and funny twist on a soap-opera: Adjoua’s new life as a young single mother, Bintou’s fashionable new love-interest from Paris (or is he?), the mystery around the girl with the wig, dramatic cliffhanger ending. Book 3 is called “The Secrets Come Out” and like another episode of an addictive soap-opera I’m really really want to know them!
If I had one less positive point to make is that, although Aya is the name on the cover, she was rather passive, basically just a shoulder for her friends to cry and lean on. She has the potential to be such an interesting character – a steady young women who wants to be a doctor – that I’d like to know her a bit more.
This book also included a “Ivorian Bonus”, including a recipe for Chicken Kedjenou, a guide on how to wrap a baby on your back and a great short “essay” on how a popular Ivorian proverb is put into practice everyday.
What if one day you found yourself sitting on a street bench somewhere, with no recollection of who you are, how you got there, where you live, what you like or dislike. What if you realize that your personality has been erased, that you are, effectively, a blank page?
Éloïse is in that street bench in the first page of La Page Blanche. She’s only able to discover her name by looking through her bag which also contains enough clues to get her home. She remembers everything needed to function, except anything remotely connected to her.
Little by little Éloïse reconstructs her life, but always as an outsider that can’t avoid making judgments about her(previous)self (what would I think about myself in this situation? What clues would my apartment give me about my own personality?). In some cases, she discovers she doesn’t like the same things or people as Old Éloïse.
Although it can be read as a “detective” story, La Page Blanche is more about Éloïse’s journey of discovery who she was and, more importantly, is. About her decision on whether to jump back into her old life or begin fresh.
The story – by Boulet – is surprisingly light and sometimes outright funny, mostly because of Éloïse’s bursts of wild imagination. Old Éloïse worked in a bookshop and she’s constantly plagued by costumers looking for the “new Marc Levy” (think Paulo Coelho meets Danielle Steel). This obsession with one fashionable author is just one of the points that La Page Blanche cleverly makes about mainstream culture and individuality.
I found the color pallet chosen by Pénélope Bagieu especially successful in reflecting Éloïse’s mood. At least it worked for me, because I had to buy the book after seeing the first pages.
From other reviews I gathered that the ending caused some division, but I loved it. It didn’t provide as much closure as expected, but it… made a point (trying to avoid spoilers) that was even more satisfying. I found myself mentally telling Éloïse “Yes! Good call!” – for someone trying to build a personality, she’s extremely relatable.
I don’t think the book is translated into English, but it should, sooner rather than later.
Other thoughts (English): Like People and Butterflies (yours?)
Other thoughts (French): madmoiZelle, Hop-Blog, A little piece off…, Ma Bouquinerie, Les Livres de George, Chez Iluze, Stellade à la plage, Deuzenn’s Garden, Miss Pipelette, Pop corn et thasse de thè, Les petits papiers de princess brunette (vos avis?)