Reviews tagging 'Sexual assault'

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me, by Mariko Tamaki

2 reviews

starlightsong's review

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emotional hopeful fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


I read this graphic novel in one sitting because it was short and there was a lot of hype around it, and... I think, for all the hype, I expected a lot more.

Spoiler The first meeting between Laura Dean and Freddy, and the way Laura Dean asked her out on their first date, was really cute and made me believe that in another story they could've had a chance, but beyond that I couldn't understand why Freddy kept going back to her, and I couldn't understand why they never just had a conversation about their issues, and I really don't understand why polyamory was ever brought up. If your girlfriend is constantly cheating on you and publicly humiliating you, that is NOT polyamory, that's just her being a shitty girlfriend! Polyamory in any of its forms is about consent and is something Laura Dean and Freddy would've needed to discuss... and, again, they never discussed anything! I feel like this graphic novel was trying to normalize polyamory a bit with the way Freddy and the advice columnist talked about it, which would be  great except imo it failed by not presenting a single healthy concept of it seeing as Freddy and Laura Dean's relationship definitely wasn't that and the show Freddy watched on TV also wasn't.

I know it can be hard to break out of toxic relationships when you really feel like you're in love, but there's usually something nice the toxic partner does, or a positive quality they have, that the other person will use to justify the toxicity. I don't see that in Laura Dean beyond their very first meeting, and... maybe the fact that she's good in bed, I guess? It's also common for some people to cling to an emotionally abusive relationship because everything else in your life is falling apart, but the bits of Freddy's home life and school life that we saw seemed... fine? She has a happy family and friends that she cares about. Idk, maybe it was done like that on purpose for whatever reason, but it didn't work for me. It was just frustrating because I didn't feel connected to any of the characters. They felt too flat, their relationships too rushed. I didn't get upset when Freddy was being a terrible friend to Doodle because of Laura Dean, I didn't get happy at the ending when Freddy finally reached her breaking point and broke up with her, and I just... didn't particularly care.

Going back to my point about communication, I 100% did not want Freddy and Laura Dean to get back together and knew they never would, but I did hope that when Freddy went to break up with Laura Dean at the end, she would at least attempt to initiate a healthy conversation and explain why they were breaking up. She... kind of did, but just barely. It was literally: "I'm breaking up with you because you're a shitty girlfriend and I'm a shitty friend when I'm with you." "Okay, then fuck you" and that was it. That's not communication. Freddy does, admittedly, learn that she should try harder to reach out for her friends, so I'll give her that at least.

I also couldn't stand how Doodle acted during the abortion subplot, and how it was just... never addressed, from what I could tell, that Doodle is definitely not old enough to sleep with a married man and it's extremely not okay for him, being the older party, to have done so. I mean, okay, earlier in the story Doodle brings up that maturity and age differences are a bit subjective and that "you can be a really mature sixteen year old or a really immature twenty year old", and Freddy then says that the age of consent exists so that adults can't take advantage of younger people. I'm personally a bit in the middle of these two viewpoints, where I think people have to consider context like where they are in life and the experiences they've had, but I also think a line has to be drawn especially when you're young and still in high school, and if Doodle is roughly the same age as Freddy then this married man has gotta be too old for her! Especially considering that at one point there's a conversation between Freddy and Vi that goes along the lines of "how old are you?" "oh I am WAY too old for you!" "so like, 25?" "I'm 18! now go do your kid stuff!"... yeah, because an age difference of one year (potentially even less, given that different birthdays are a thing) is way too much. All 17 year olds are immature babies one minute and then turn 18 and magically become super mature adults the next minute, right? In the state I live in you're literally still considered a minor until 19! Meanwhile all that's said of a high schooler sleeping with a presumably much older married man is basically "you keep going back to your cheating girlfriend so you can't judge me" and it's treated like a mistake she made even though she was essentially groomed and made pregnant through statutory rape. Both of these things combined just felt hypocritical and weird and possibly a result of the story just trying to cover too many things at once, which in my opinion also made all the things it tried to cover feel rushed. Everyone's relationships and characterizations and situations were just rushed.

Also, this is a much smaller criticism than the rest, I suppose, but I was... really confused by the thing about her toys and keychains talking.  How did that work? It wasn't explained well and didn't seem like it added a single thing to the plot since they didn't talk TO Freddy or her friends, just had random conversations amongst themselves (again, literally how?!). Also gotta say as a bisexual person it bothered me that Laura Dean was, given her interest in dating both men and women, apparently bisexual (yes, some lesbians date men before realizing they're lesbians but the story didn't bother to address this if that was the case) and the only bi character in the story. The emotionally toxic cheater. I shouldn't need to explain the problem with that sort of stereotype.

I think rushed, a word I've used several times in this review, is the word that pretty much summarizes this graphic novel for me, and it hurts because I had high hopes for it. I will say that it had a strong beginning, and even though I criticized the abortion subplot I appreciated how
Spoiler Doodle didn't agonize over whether or not to keep the baby and wasn't judged and shamed for not wanting to.
I also think that the dialogue is surprisingly realistic to how teens and young adults these days talk. And I liked the ending! Seeing Freddy decide what was truly important to her and who she really loved was cute and heartwarming and, despite how much the lack of emphasis on having healthy communication with your partner annoyed me, I do think this could be a meaningful story for teens who are going through, or might end up in, a relationship like Laura Dean and Freddy's and could need help recognizing it. The best thing about this graphic novel to me is definitely the gorgeous illustrations, but for all my criticisms I still didn't hate it. I thought it just okay and that's why I'm giving it 2 stars.

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kirby's review against another edition

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emotional lighthearted sad fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


I really wanted to like this graphic novel, especially since I had heard so many good things about it. It really missed the mark on a lot of stuff. 

The positives:
Spoiler Freddy is in a toxic relationship with Laura Dean. Laura Dean cheats, lies, is flaky, gaslights and manipulates her. These are all terrible and don't sound positive at all, but bare with me. It's nice because we get to see Freddy break free from such a toxic relationship and find love with herself and those who do care for her. I feel like we don't get this enough in LGBTQ+ literature. Also! Tons of rep and lesbian main characters.

My issues:
Spoiler Freddy isn't very likable in my opinion. She's extremely flaky on her friends, and constantly ditches them for Laura Dean. There's really only one instance in which Laura Dean manipulates Freddy to ditch her friends, but the rest of the time she was actively choosing to bail on plans with them to go see her instead. To be honest though, my real problem with this book is the subplot with Doodle. Doodle gets groomed by an older married man she met through dnd. She ends up pregnant because of him, and everyone acts like it was just a mistake that she slept with him instead of statutory rape. It never gets addressed how wrong the whole situation was, and instead we get to see Doodle blaming herself for the whole thing. This completely turned me off to everything else about the story.

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