Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

By Sneha Jaiswal (Twitter | Instagram)

“I popped my head out of the water. And suddenly I wanted to cry”

The graphic novel “When Everything Turned Blue” by Alessandro Baronciani follows the protagonist Chiara, a young woman who battles with crippling anxiety and panic attacks. Having lost a dear friend to a terminal illness, Chiara finds herself facing the illness of a colleague at work, who has chosen to accept their biological shortcomings in a way that only exacerbates Chiara’s own feelings of inadequacy. I couldn’t have picked a weirder time to read this book, because… let’s just say there has been plenty of hospital hopping, stress, anxiety and tears at home these past few weeks.

If the author didn’t have a distinctly male name, I might have assumed this graphic novel was autobiographical. It consists of a series of blue-drenched pages, with minimal dialogue but instead features simple and concise monologues reflecting the protagonist’s personal experiences. It feels like a personal journal, a means of coping with depression. The story possesses a certain intimacy, as if it were written solely for friends and family or even just for the creator’s own eyes, as a way of expressing emotions and alleviating their mental burdens. This kind of storytelling has its pros and cons. On one hand, it adds a personal depth to the fictional experiences, but on the other hand, it can alienate the reader from the main character. The reader knows very little about them, and all they get to read about are their problems and challenges.

The artwork is simple, stark and a lot of pages don’t even have any text bubbles, but manage to convey what the creator is trying to say. For example, there’s a page where Chiara is sitting alone, her face crestfallen and as a reader you know she is going through a hard time, she doesn’t have to say anything. The artwork does it for her. The book ends on a simplified philosophical notes, which might seem satisfactory to some and a little too abrupt for others.

It’s a 3.5 on 5 from me.

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