Book Reviews

Graphics Novels to Round Out 2023

While both of these graphic novels have such different vibes, they were the perfect way to ring out this year. We’ve got a witchy Fast and the Furious in Brooms and a non-fiction memoir about Taiwan in The Boy from Clearwater. Keep reading this blog post for these two mini book reviews of Brooms and The Boy from Clearwater.

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Brooms by Jasmine Walls & illustrated by Teo Duvall

It’s 1930s Mississippi. Magic is permitted only in certain circumstances, and by certain people. Unsanctioned broom racing is banned. But for those who need the money, or the thrills…it’s there to be found.Meet Billie Mae, captain of the Night Storms racing team, and Loretta, her best friend and second-in-command. They’re determined to make enough money to move out west to a state that allows Black folks to legally use magic and take part in national races.

Cheng-Kwan – doing her best to handle the delicate and dangerous double act of being the perfect “son” to her parents, and being true to herself while racing.Mattie and Emma — Choctaw and Black — the youngest of the group and trying to dodge government officials who want to send them and their newly-surfaced powers away to boarding school.And Luella, in love with Billie Mae. Her powers were sealed away years ago after she fought back against the government. She’ll do anything to prevent the same fate for her cousins.


(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

I loved reading every page of Brooms whether it be the broom riding races or the characters. It’s a rich world with magic, racism, and love. It’s easy to get lost in the broom racing and the magical training scenes, but where Brooms also shines are the characters. The love and friendship at their core. The ways they create a found family of friendship, understanding, and support. Brooms also does paint the 1930s in Mississippi with rose colored glasses. It also showcases the racism the characters face and their resistance in survival, joy, and winning. Find Brooms on Goodreads, Storygraph, Amazon,, & Blackwells.

The Boy from Clearwater Book 1 by Yu Pei-Yun, illustrated by Zhou Jian-Xin & translated by Lin King

Tsai Kun-lin, an ordinary boy was born in Qingshui, Taichung in 1930s Taiwan. In part 1 Tsai, in concert with the beautiful illustrations of Chou Jian-xin, depicts a carefree childhood despite the Japanese growing up happily with the company of nursery rhymes and picture books on Qingshui Street.  As war emerges Tsai’s memories shift to military parades, air raids, and watching others face conscription into the army. It seems no one can escape. After the war, the book-loving teenager tries hard to learn Mandarin and believes he is finally stepping towards a comfortable future, but little does he know, a dark cloud awaits him ahead.

Part 2 opens with Illustrations reminiscent of woodcuts showing the soul-crushing experience of Tsai’s detention and imprisonment. In his second year at Taichung First Senior High School, Tsai attends a book club hosted by his teacher and is consequently arrested on a false charge of taking part in an “illegal” assembly. After being tortured, he is sentenced to ten years in prison, deprived of civil rights for seven years, and sent to Green Island for “reformation”. Lasting until his release in September 1960, Tsai, a victim of the White Terror era spent ten years of his youth in prison on an unjust charge. But he is ready to embrace freedom.


(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

The Boy from Clearwater is a fabulous and informative graphic novel about the history of Taiwan beginning in the 1930s grounded in the story of one boy. The color shading and line work is impactful as well as its use of space and silence. Alone the premise was enough to intrigue me, but as soon as I started reading I was fully invested. Featuring snippets of memories from childhood, The Boy from Clearwater tells a story about perception and alliances.

About how we, as kids, make sense of wars, loyalty, and changing nations. It’s about the history told through one life. We have scenes of families and sweet moments of crushes, while also juxtaposed with danger lurking both in the background and foreground. The ways our names and identities change overnight. All our previous actions branded as treason handed down with lies. The Boy from Clearwater is impactful from start to finish and I already have my eye on book two. Find The Boy from Clearwater on Goodreads, Storygraph, Amazon,, & Blackwells.


What’s a graphic novel on your TBR for 2024?

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