BAYA Book Review

The Fire Never Goes Out: A Memoir in Pictures by Noelle Stevenson

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Stevenson, Noelle. The Fire Never Goes Out: A Memoir in Pictures. HarperTeen, 2020.194p. ISBN: 9780062278272. $19.99. HS, OT ****

In this collection of graphic essays Noelle Stevenson (Lumberjanes, Nimona) reflects on her life. Organized into eight sections that each covers a year in her life, Noelle talks about her creative life and success, her sexual identity and gender expression, her family and relationships, and her mental health challenges. It is a very personal book and has less of a narrative arc than the fiction she’s most known for. Readers who love books often want to know more about what drives the author. And teens love Noelle Stevenson’s books – Lumberjanes and Nimona and other series she’s worked on like Adventure Time and Thor are perennial favorites. Readers expecting something in that fun fantasy vein will be disappointed; this book is all too real. Between the abstract narrative, shifting art styles, and the honest treatments of darker mental states and self-destructive behaviors (and a page of art-school style nude drawings) this book is not recommended to Stevenson’s youngest readers. Readers who want to get to know Stevenson and understand a little bit about her mind works will find a lot here. It affirms the often slow and painful journey to self-acceptance and open presentation in the world and concludes with a joyful intimate relationship. It is as much for readers who are creators and explorers of identity as it is for Stevenson superfans, though it is obviously best for readers who are both.

–Andrea Mullarkey, Berkeley Public Library 

Tags: Comics, Coming of age, Diverse, LGBTQ+, Mental health

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