There are lots of coming of age stories out there, but Blankets may be one of the most beautiful. It tells the story of Craig, a young man who meets the girl of his dreams, Raina, at Bible camp one summer. Both come from strict, religious, and conservative households, but they keep their romance alive through letters. Finally, their parents relent and allow Craig to visit during his spring break in a supervised manner. Then they get to spent more time together and become even closer. The rest of the book follows their relationship, Craig's growing uneasiness with his surroundings, and also his leaning more and more on the arts to help him relate to the world.
The art captures a wide range of emotions and is simultaneously realistic and cartoonish. Craig Thompson took a great amount of time and care in telling and depicting this tale, making the reader alternately laugh, cry, worry, and seethe with anger. Perhaps most importantly, he tells this story without resorting to simple stereotypes or cliched solutions. He has created a number of other graphic novels, including Goodbye, Chunky Rice and the travel diary Carnet de Voyage, and his work has been celebrated with multiple Harvey, Eisner, and Ignatz Awards.
Blankets has received many accolades aside from professional awards. It was named on Time Magazine's Top 10 graphic novels ever published in English. It has also been published in multiple languages, winning the 2005 Prix de la critique in France. Reviewer Iain Burnside wrote that "it is essential reading for anyone who has ever been in love." In a detailed interview with Tom Spurgeon, Sean T. Collins dubbed it one of the major works of the decade. Andrew D. Arnold called it a "great American novel." Time.com's Todd Murry speaks of some of the flaws in the book but still calls it "borderline essential reading."
A preview is available here from publisher Top Shelf.