‘Are You Listening’ by Tillie Walden had been on my wish-list for a long time, like a lot of other graphic novels, because they are a lot more expensive than regular novels, but usually worth it because of the art and effort that goes into making them. Can’t say I felt the same (or anything) while reading Walden’s work. And I haven’t read any of her other works, so there isn’t any precedent to compare it to.

The story follows 18-year-old Bea, who has run off from home and doesn’t know where to go or what to do next. By a stroke of luck, she runs into a neighbor Lou, who is traveling around and offers Bea a ride. The two have a long drive to Lou’s place in Texas, because Bea doesn’t have anywhere to go and they also pick up a lost pet cat on the way, with a address on the collar. Now there’s some mystery around this cat, which is revealed in the end, and is as boring as boring can be. Also, for two people who barely know each other, Bea and Lou behave like they are a couple on the verge of a divorce.

The plot is very thin, the artwork is done in a lot of blue-red-violet shades that make the mood of the story more ominous and depressing than it really is. There’s some mystical/magical elements in the story, which just comes off as awkward. I’ve read sillier magical stories and loved them, but this one just doesn’t do anything for me as a reader. Thing is, Bea is not very likable, she treats Lou like shit and Walden tries to redeem the protagonist by adding a dark past. Some readers might find it poignant, but others might just feel like its a superficial attempt to tug at our emotional strings.

Overall, ‘Are You Listening’ was an okay-ish read and is a 2/5 from me.

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Listen to Episode 48 for some great graphic novel suggestions