Award-winning author and artist Mike Curato recently released his debut YA graphic novel, FLAMER, a coming-of-age story that confronts ideas of homophobia, bullying, body image and coming to terms with identity in every sense of the word.
Curato’s graphic novel follows 14-year-old Aiden Navarro who navigates friendships, deals with bullies, and spends time with Elias (a boy he can’t stop thinking about), as he finds himself on a path of self-discovery and acceptance.
Unfolding over the final days of camp in 1995, Aiden’s story is heavily inspired by Curato’s own experience as a Boy Scout (and eventual Eagle Scout) and his coming out as a teenager.
The Hollywood Reporter called FLAMER “the kind of book that might change its reader’s lives.”
“Flamer acknowledges the brutal weight of hatred, yet inspires the courage to live,” wrote Samantha Zaboski for Shelf Awareness.
And the School Library Journal described the graphic novel as “An essential book that shows readers that they are never alone in their struggles.”
This writer grew up as an avid fan of comic books, and it’s easy to see why graphic novels have become so popular.
Not only is Curato’s nuanced prose evocative of his hero’s mindset and challenges, but his powerful illustrations are clever (some adult metaphors in the mix) and visually stunning. Using primarily black and white for his graphics, Curato reserves bold shades of red and orange for Aiden’s emotional peaks.
If you haven’t checked out graphic novels lately – this is the one! FLAMER is available now.
Hit the play button below to listen to Mike Curato chat on Aiden’s journey through homophobia and summer crushes in FLAMER.