cover image The Gulf

The Gulf

Adam de Souza. Tundra, $20.99 (240p) ISBN 978-1-77488-073-9

With high school graduation rapidly approaching, cynical Oli is almost free to leave for Evergreen Community, a commune in British Columbia’s Gulf Islands, where she plans to do “meaningful work.” Her best friends Milo and Liam are set to join, but after a hookup between Oli and Liam turns awkward, Milo’s friend Alvin signs on instead. Oli, Milo, and Alvin abscond after their penultimate day of school, and their journey starts and stays rocky due to the confiscation of Oli’s go bag and the group’s general lack of preparation. Thanks to much-needed assistance from a few nonjudgmental adults, the teens finally make it to Evergreen, which, upon arrival, differs from what Oli imagined. Ample wordless panels allow the teens’ actions and conversations to linger and take up space, while shaky, hand-inked drawings by de Souza (Ish, for adults) reinforce the uncertainty and distrust Oli expresses about her future. The limited color palette shifts to reflect the characters’ emotions and dialogue throughout their 2007-set journey, making for a contemplative and optimistic take on adolescent fears surrounding growing up in an inequitable world. The book’s cover depicts Oli, Milo, and Alvin with tan skin; other characters’ skin tones reflect the white of the page. Ages 14–up. (Mar.)