‘Luisa: Now and Then’ is a graphic novel by Carole Maurel, adapted by Mariko Tamaki. It has the classic question as its central theme – ‘if you could meet your younger self, what would you tell them?’.
Well, the protagonist Luisa is a cynical 33-year-old living in Paris and making a living by taking pictures of frozen pizza slices. She admit to having lost interest in men and also seems to be in denial of her sexuality. Things shake up, when by some freak of nature, she gets to meet her 15-year-old self. The younger Luisa had hopped on a bus in 1995, but finds herself getting off in a strange place, where the year is 2013.
So there is accidental time-travel and eventual body-swapping too. Time travel + body swap = pretty good scope for some great laughs. While at no point does the story have the reader in splits, it keeps you amused enough to be invested in what is happening.
The best thing about ‘Luisa: Now and Then’ is the colorful artwork. There’s a beautiful splash of bright yellow and blue tones, and the art gives off a water-paint effect which makes it really fun to look and read. The story is interesting enough, but could’ve benefited with some stronger plot-points. Teen Luisa and her older version are poles apart, leading to a lot of conflict and two pulling each other’s hair. Literally. Throw in a gorgeous neighbor and there are sparks flying.
It was fun to see both versions of the protagonist judging each other, the older for the teen’s lack of style and ambitious dreams; while the younger at how the life of her future self looks like – bland, lonely and loveless. As the two confront each other, they slowly understand what really went wrong and learn a strong lesson – it’s okay to love whoever you want.
The overall tone of the graphic novel is sunny and the author manages to explain the perils of sexual confusion and denial in a breezy way, without a lot of drama or emotions. It’s a 4/5 from me.
And happy pride month again.
Please subscribe to our podcast on YouTube by the same name – Abstract AF
Listen to episode 29 for some fun LGBTQ themed book recommendations.