cover image Coming Back

Coming Back

Jessi Zabarsky. Random House Graphic, $24.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-593-12002-6

In an inventive feat of mythmaking, Zabarsky’s (Witchlight) sophomore graphic novel is set on an island where individuals canshift form and shape elements, and where children are born through seeds left behind by the dead. Valissa, the village’s dark brown–skinned, brown-haired librarian, and Preet, a powerful Shaper with light brown skin and white hair, share a tender bond. When a strange, harmful mist emerges from the library that houses their people’s history, nonmagical Valissa volunteers to descend into the island’s depths. Now alone, Preet finds and plants a seed, raising the resultant child alone against the island’s strongest traditions. After the child, Lue, is discovered, the two are banished to a strange and unknown world, unable to tell Valissa where they’ve gone. With limited exposition, Zabarsky’s subtle art settles the reader into a dreamlike world populated with imaginative beings. Valissa’s and Preet’s parallel journeys deftly explore perseverance and finding a balance between tradition and self-discovery. As encapsulated in the echoing refrain “go and come back to us,” spoken to departing loved ones, the story assuredly layers exploration and reflection into a sublime and emotionally resonant journey. Ages 12–up. Agent: Judith Hansen, Hansen Literary. (Dec.)