Kisses for Jet by Joris Bas Backer is a trans coming of age story that encapsulates not only the awkwardness of being a teen but also the struggles to find their true selves. Set in the late 90s in the shadow of Y2K, this graphic novel takes you on a journey of Jet navigating their identity. Continue reading below to get my full take on Kisses for Jet
A striking and emotive graphic novel from trans creator, Joris Bas Backer about coming to terms with who you are in a world which is utterly confusing and overwhelming.
In 1999, when most people think that the world is about to end with the Y2K crash on the eve of the new Millennium, Jet is just trying to get through high school. When their Mom moves to another country to work on fixing the Millennium bug, Jet is forced to stay at a boarding house while they finish the school year, and they’re not pleased about it.
But something’s not quite right, and it’s not just the out-of-control kids that Jet has to live with, or the staff who look after the boarding house who act super suspiciously. As Jet slowly starts to feel overwhelmed by their peers, they begin to notice that they don’t feel like the other girls in their class. As new feelings start to emerge, Jet slowly begins to realise that they may be more of a boy than a girl.
Is that even possible? And who do they talk to about these feelings when there’s not even any internet around, and cell phones are barely used?
This coming-of-gender graphic novel debut from trans creator Joris Bas Backer is an enlightening and often hilarious tale that casts light on what it was like to be transgender before information and help was more accessible and widespread.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
Feeling invested in Jet’s story was not difficult at all. Joris Bas Backer makes it very easy to get into the mind of Jet and live through their experiences. While a large overarching conflict did not consume the narrative, the reader is immersed in this incredibly intimate struggle. Jet faces life away from their parents, surrounded by some new not-so-friendly students at their boarding house, and strains on their friendship.
At times it feels like the plot jumps around and does not conclude certain storylines. That would be the main downside to Kisses for Jet. I could still easily follow, but occasionally had to backtrack to make sure I didn’t miss anything.
It was awesome to see not only trans representation in Kisses for Jet in conjunction with the time period. In a world constantly bombarded with information and social media, it was interesting to see how little information would have been available for people who are trying to find themselves.
Joris Bas Backer’s artwork does an AMAZING job of visualizing the complicated emotions and feelings for Jet. Where words could not express it, the linework and coloring stepped in and took the reins. I really liked the use of two colors, black/grey/charcoal (idk, I’m clearly not an artist) and a vibrant shade of blue. Also, something about the drawing of the characters just really captures the awkwardness of being a teen.
I love that this graphic novel exists for generations who may be feeling these same insecurities, anxieties, and challenges that Jet experiences in Kisses for Jet. I thoroughly enjoyed immersing myself in this novel and recommend it to anyone looking for their next book!