cover image Enlightened


Sachi Ediriweera. Atheneum, $22.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-6659-0311-0; $13.99 paper ISBN 978-1-6659-0310-3

Siddhartha’s metamorphosis from crown prince to the founder of Buddhism propels this straightforward graphic novel debut. In monochromatic blues, blacks, and whites with terra-cotta accents, Ediriweera showcases teenage Siddhartha, the son of King Suddhodana of Kapilavastu, who is trapped both mentally and physically by his royal responsibilities (“How can I be the king... if I’m not even allowed to visit the city?”). When Siddhartha attempts to escape the palace, he’s intercepted by his father’s chief adviser, who guides him through the city. There, Siddhartha meets elderly and sick residents, and for the first time comes face-to-face with the concept of death. He also encounters a bald, robed monk who Siddhartha learns “is on a journey for peace of mind,” information that plants an inquisitive seed within him. As he grows older, Siddhartha wonders, “Is this feeling of emptiness all I will have... the rest of my life?” He soon departs Kapilavastu to uncover “the truths of this world.” Bold linework and clean-cut panels depict Siddhartha’s struggle to reconcile the suffering of society beyond his privileged upbringing in this practical history of Buddhism, a philosophical primer. Siddhartha cues as South Asian; background characters appear racially diverse. Ages 12–up. (Sept.)