The Fire Never Goes Out

Noelle Stevenson. HarperTeen, $19.99 (208p) ISBN 978-0-06227-827-2
A scrapbook of diary entries, drawings, illustrated song lyrics, photos, and sticky notes honestly captures the uncertainty of youth in pseudo-real time. Between 2011 and 2019, comics artist Noelle Stevenson created year-in-review blog posts for her online followers, presented and expanded upon here. The years include early and astronomical artistic and professional successes, as she leverages a Tumblr following into a book deal (Nimona) and a Netflix show (She-Ra and the Princesses of Power), as well as mental health challenges that ebb, flow, and eventually culminate in an unnamed diagnosis. Depicting herself with a range of hairstyles and frequently with a hole in her center, she documents her spiritual struggles, burgeoning independence, and deep fears, often in the form of gentle letters to her younger self. By conveying key events primarily via generalized summaries—about coming out as queer, workplace burnout, secret projects, troubled relationships, and mental crescendos—Stevenson sometimes undermines her own raw emotion, which is on clearer display where she depicts, for example, discovering that her grandma accepts her sexuality or describes the titular fire as a thing that “lit you up or burned you apart.” Stevenson’s illustrations are sweet, simple, and confident. If the memoir feels a bit scattered at times, so does the experience of youth itself; Stevenson brings unique and endearing insight to the messy process of growing up. Ages 14–up. (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 04/15/2020
Release date: 01/01/2020
Genre: Children's
Paperback - 160 pages - 978-0-06-227826-5
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