Jane, the Fox, and Me
By Fanny Britt, Illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault // On Goodreads
I came across this graphic novel in a Brain Pickings post. The reference to Jane Eyre initially pulled me in, but then I looked at some of the sample illustrations pulled from the book and I had to get my hands on a copy. Luckily, the local library system had a copy (yay for free books!).
The story is a slice of young Hélène’s life. She is a young girl who is the target of the classic mean girls at her school. They pick on her constantly. She also suffers through some other tween dilemmas like going swimsuit shopping and feeling like a sausage, and having to go to camp and not having a friend to pal around with. Throughout the story, Hélène is reading Jane Eyre, of which she references in comparison to her own life.
Overall, my reaction to this graphic novel: some amazing illustrations but a so-so story. The reason I’m not a fan of the story is because I didn’t care about it. Perhaps I am a cold-hearted beast, but the story of a young girl who is bullied has been done before and I’m over it. I didn’t think there was any brilliant twist or epiphany. Also: **SPOILER…highlight text to read —> She just sort of outgrows the bullying. Also, maybe I just don’t give a fig about teenage drama.
However, I adored the illustrations! Isabelle Arsenault did a superb job of conveying the emotions of Hélène with the use of color and composition. When color was introduced, it was very purposeful. She utilized negative space in her compositions, and didn’t always rely heavily on line. It all mixed together really well. The style of the images overall was what I’d call “sketchy” but executed in a “less is more” way so nothing seemed unfinished. Sometimes when I draw, it is difficult to know how much is appropriate for an image. When do you stop? Should you add more? It’s not always easy to say. But Arsenault has mastered it. There were several panels where I felt she put the bare bones needed, and it worked perfectly!
You may have more empathy than me and want to pick up this book to feel all the feels for Hélène. If not, at least pick up a copy and just page through to admire Arsenault’s gorgeous illustrations.