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Thursday, September 21, 2006

 
12 Reasons Why I Love Her -- A heady confection of conflict and romance is found in this new graphic novel published by Oni Press. Written by Jamie S. Rich and illustrated by Joelle Jones, 12 Reasons Why I Love Her is told in a non-linear fashion that convincingly immerses the reader in the reality of a romantic entanglement, with all the tension, joy, passion and sorrow that accompanies any longterm love affair. Jones has a confident, playful line and gives rich texture to the story, parsed out in 12 individual chapters. Each chapter has its own theme, mood and emotion, and any one of them provides an excellent standalone story.

Together, the 12 chapters of 12 Reasons Why I Love Her feel like time you've invested in your own love life, imperfect but exquisite experiences with someone you love and who you hope loves you. Rich and Jones perfectly encapsulate the frustrations of young adult romance, the paradoxical blending of needs and desires with the profound inability to ever really become one with each other.

I liked the characters here, and found myself pulling for them and their relationship. More importantly, I found myself sympathizing with both of them -- Rich makes this possible not through artificial narrative tricks but just by allowing both his lead characters room to breathe and the space to explore who they really are. Each of them does something stupid or unwise at some point, but you never feel that those mistakes are anything other than the unavoidable act of a human being, being human.

The final chapter of 12 Reasons Why I Love Her is the most telling -- whether the relationship between Gwen and Evan ultimately survives is not as important as that final image, the one moment in their lives when they were more one than every before or ever since. Long after the present passion fades, long after, even, you've ended it and perhaps painfully moved on, there's always that one moment that will always be a part of you.

This is a story told out of time because, ultimately, each of us has one of those moments in our lives, and we live in it forever, outside of time. The rest of it is what we call the relationship, but that one moment is the hinge around which the rest of our days will turn, and even if we never admit it out loud, we know there's nothing that can change that. Rich and Jones capture that electric transcendence in 12 Reasons Why I Love Her, and that's all the reason you'll need to lose yourself in its wonders.

Note: 12 Reasons Why I Love Her will be released October 18th, 2006

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