Mariko Tamaki creates a beautiful graphic novel focused on teenage relationships


In a sea full of voices, it is hard to find your own, and in a society telling you who you should be, it is hard to find people that understand you and often harder to find media to relate to. 

As an LGBTQ+ student, “Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me” by Mariko Tamaki was a breath of fresh air that really spoke to the struggles of romance and dating in high school, especially from an LGBTQ+ lens. The beautifully illustrated graphic novel focuses on the bumpy on-again, off-again relationship between Frederica “Freddy” Riley and her girlfriend, Laura Dean, as well as Freddy’s relationship with her friends and her growing understanding of what it means to be a modern lesbian. I finished the book in one sitting, and was swept along by a beautiful, heartbreaking, and sometimes infuriating story that realistically portrays budding romance and the everyday struggles of teenagers trying to figure out who they are. I really appreciated the diverse cast of characters, each with different identities, backgrounds and family structures. I also enjoyed the overarching message of finding the love you deserve (even if it is platonic) instead of settling for the love you can get. 

Along with the novel’s beautiful art style and messages, it also tackled some very relevant messages to young people such as teenage pregnancy, sex and romance between young people, drug and alcohol use, toxic relationships, etc. Overall, this novel was very unique with its black, white and pink coloring on top of beautifully detailed illustrations and was unlike anything I had read before. Though, I will say that as the main character struggles through her relationship with Laura Dean, the reader will too as those on the outside are the ones that truly see the toxic nature of their relationship. This tension between characters was important to the overall character growth at the end, but can cause the main character, Freddy, to come acrose as a little needy and slightly annoying at times, but it also made her more realistic. I would not go into this expecting a lighthearted, easy read, but instead ready to come away feeling embraced and understood through the novel’s central themes about relationships and staying true to who you are.

“Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me” by Mariko Tamaki is an amazing graphic novel that really spoke to me. I would absolutely recommend this book for people who want to see themselves in a diverse cast of characters, want to enjoy a well-written novel centered around teenagers or simply want a satisfying read.