Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Review - Soupy Leaves Home

Soupy Leaves Home
by Cecil Castellucci
illustrated by Jose Pimienta
Date: 2017
Publisher: Dark Horse Books
Reading level: MG
Book type: graphic novel
Pages: 208
Format: e-book
Source: library

Pearl -Soupy- Plankette ran away from her abusive father, but has nowhere to go until she stumbles upon a disguise that gives her the key to a new identity. Reborn as a boy named Soupy, she hitches her star to Remy -Ramshackle- Smith, a hobo who takes her under his wing. Ramshackle's kindness and protection go a long way to help Soupy heal from her difficult past. But Ramshackle has his own demons to wrestle with, and he'll need Soupy just as much as she needs him.

Set in 1932, this is the story of two misfits with no place to call home, who build a relationship during a train hopping journey from the cold heartbreak of their eastern homes toward the sunny promise of California.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

I wasn't quite sure what to expect from this one, other than that it's a historical graphic novel. It takes place during the Great Depression, and offers the reader a glimpse of the hobo lifestyle.

At first, I wasn't thrilled with the style, as it appears to be monochromatic. It is... but those colour palettes change throughout the book. While we never get true full-colour illustrations, the pops of contrast work well enough to highlight certain important objects and plot points in the story.

The book is a little light on plot, and I didn't really find the ending believable (given Soupy's reasons for having left home in the first place); it just seemed a little too neat and convenient to me. The characterization was also mixed. I thought Soupy could've been developed a little more, given that she was the main character, and I also would've liked to learn more about Professor Jack (that guy's got to have a backstory). Ramshackle was probably developed the best, although he came across as a little too philosophical for my taste (and I'm not sure how that would play with the book's intended audience).

The real strengths of this one are its setting and history. I learned things I didn't know about riding the rails, and about hobos themselves. Did you know there's a difference between a hobo, a tramp, and a bum? Well, there is, as one character explains. There's also a neat glossary of hobo symbols at the end, so you can go back and see the messages that Soupy and Ramshackle encountered on their journey.

Overall, it was a decent read, but not one I'm that excited about. It had its moments of lovely writing, and a good historical foundation, but the story itself wasn't that memorable. I can see it as a good addition to a history class for middle graders, though.

Plot: 2/5
Characters: 3/5
Pace: 2/5
Writing & Editing: 4/5
Illustration: 3/5
Originality: 3/5

Enjoyment: 3/5

Overall Rating: 2.86 out of 5 ladybugs

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