I picked “Aya”, a graphic novel, at a pretty good discount two years ago at the Delhi book fair in Pragati Maidan. Set in the 1970s, it’s a fun book on the lives of young African women. The content slightly betrays the title because it’s not centred around Aya, a 19 year old who aspires to be a doctor. There is no clear hero and that works for the story.

The author Marguerite Abouet who grew up in Ivory Coast, in Western Africa, seeks to give us a glimpse into the ordinary lives of teens in her part of the world. She achieves this through a breezy, humorous narrative.

What I liked about the book was that it was relatable in many parts, despite the story unfolding in another far corner of the world. It could have well been set in India. You have overprotective fathers, vexed mothers, distracted teens who would rather party than study for their next exam.

Almost all characters are vibrant and have a distinct personality of their own, even if they appear only in a few panels. Friendship is a stronger theme in this book than love and that’s something I really like.

The illustrations are so good that it feels like you are watching a film. And it gets a decent amount of laughs out of the reader. Don’t know why it took me two years to start reading it.