Sparse illustrations flesh out this harrowing tale of two brothers growing up with overbearing religious parents in a small town in Wisconsin. Craig Thompson’s narrative style allows you into his head as he grows from a young boy into a young man and faces the stern disapproval of his father while also trying to protect his brother from the dangers that life can throw your way. When teenage Craig meets Raina at a Christian camp, the story unfolds in a strange yet beautiful way. Calling Blankets a coming-of-age story is too reductive; Thompson covers so much ground in his nearly 600-page novel that it leaves the reader in awe. Perhaps the most astounding effect of Blankets is that it leaves you impressed with the maturity of Thompson’s work. The book never gets mired down in the dark and muddy territory it mines; instead it rises above and soars. Not surprisingly, the year Blankets was released, 2003, it won two Eisner Awards, three Harvey Awards, and two Ignatz Awards.
Reviewed by John Hogan on July 13, 2012