Maroh, Julie. Blue is the Warmest Color. Trans. Ivanka Hahnenberger. Arsenal Pulp Press, 2013. $19.95. 156p. PB. 978-1-55152-514-3.
Blue is the Warmest Color is a superb, coming-of-age graphic novel. Gorgeously illustrated, this debut novel from writer and illustrator Julie Maroh reflects the tragic love story between Emma and Clementine, two young lesbians in mid-1990s France. Flashback scenes from Clementine’s diary are black and white with a splash of bright blue, emphasizing the importance of the color to Clementine.
While attending high school, Clementine struggles with her sexuality and dating boys. Yet after a quick glimpse of Emma in the street and a later chance encounter at a gay bar, she slowly comes to terms with her own sexuality. From there, the two embark together on a sweet but difficult journey. Contemporary scenes in full, yet darker, color focus on an impending tragedy and parallel the overall mood of the characters in the scenes.
Ivanka Hahnenberger’s translation from French to English is perfect. The occasional explicit sexual situations make this title best for those 18 years or older. Anyone, be they LGBT or not, who is looking for a great love story will enjoy this novel. Both academic and public libraries would greatly benefit from purchasing this work for their institutions.
Reviewer: Talia Earle