If you’re LGBT, interested in film, or not living under a rock, chances are you’ve heard about Blue is the Warmest Color, the French film about two young lesbians that won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival last year. Well, that film is based on the French graphic novel Le bleu est une couleur chaude (in English, Blue is the Warmest Color).
The film, as you’ve probably heard (or seen), contains explicit sex scenes, but apparently the book is meant for young adults. I picked up the book over winter break and read through it in about an hour or two.
Blue is the Warmest Color is a graphic novel about growing up, falling in love, and coming out. Clementine is a junior in high school who seems average enough: she has friends, family, and the romantic attention of the boys in her school. When her openly gay best friend takes her out on the town, she wanders into a lesbian bar where she encounters Emma: a punkish, confident girl with blue hair. Their attraction is instant and electric, and Clementine find herself in a relationship that will test her friends, parents, and her own ideas about herself and her identity.
First, the negative. This novel is, unfortunately, saturated with your stereotypical queer coming-out angst: homophobic friends and parents, self-loathing, jealousy, etc. And it’s made even more sad by the fact that we know from the beginning that the main character has passed away. It’s not very original, and the translation from the French is really quite clunky.
The pacing was also strange. The first half moved slowly, but the second half jumped ahead in leaps and bounds. First they’re teenagers, just falling in love, and suddenly they’re living together as adults. Everything happens so fast with very little explanation along the way.
It is, however, a moving love story. It’s full of all that first-love excitement—made even more magical by the fact that it’s not what Clementine expected. She never expected to fall in love with a girl. And the illustrations are really beautiful. I love the blue of Emma’s hair, the way it stands out every time she’s in the picture. It’s lovely.
All in all, I’d recommend this novel. It’s a quick read, and the artwork makes it worth it.