It's So Magic

Lynda Barry is a teacher, an Eisner Award-winning comics artist, and a MacArthur "genius grant" recipient. Considered one of the form's most influential creators, Barry helped move the comic arts into the mainstream. It's So Magic collects Ernie Pook's Comeek episodes from the early 1990s featuring teenager Maybonne Mullen and her younger siblings, Marlys and Freddie.

When the book opens, Maybonne and Marlys are living with their grandmother, and Freddie is living elsewhere. In introducing their mom, Maybonne explains, "We don't live with her for she is too high strung." Few mentions are made of their mother, with only occasional references to a possible breakdown. Later, Freddie rejoins his siblings, and at the end, they all go home, a reunion that perfectly captures Maybonne's mixed emotions: simultaneously angry at their mother and overjoyed to see her.

Maybonne and Marlys are perfect foils to one another, equal parts angst and antics. Teenaged Maybonne believes the world is magic even when she is low, experiencing what the ever-exuberant Marlys calls "riding on a bummer." As Maybonne wrestles with issues of faith and war and injustice and discrimination, Marlys manages to pepper her often hilarious segments with unexpected insights. It's So Magic offers true laugh-out-loud moments as well as thoughtful commentary that will feel as fresh today as it did in the 1990s. If it feels like Marlys steals every scene, that's because she does, but it is through Maybonne that readers will find themselves thinking deeply about the human experience, and that is Barry's great gift: to make readers laugh and to make readers think, all at the same time. --Sara Beth West, freelance reviewer and librarian

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