From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Shaw's stunningly conceived and executed comic opus captures one moment of change in a family. Maggie and David Loony have called their three adult children to their childhood home to announce that, after 40 years of marriage, they're getting a divorce. Dennis, the eldest, desperately searches for an answer to why. He believes that if he just finds the right old letters, he'll understand what's happening to his parents, only to find that his answers say a lot more about his own marriage and infant son. Claire, the middle child, has been through her own divorce and is now struggling to raise a teen daughter by herself. The youngest, Peter, who has always felt like a changeling in his family and is drawn with a frog's head, is going through a delayed coming-of-age. Shaw's style deftly combines cartoon drawings with slavish attention to detail. The result feels reminiscent of a photo album, one person's quest to remember everything from the floor plans of the vacation home to the texture of the sand on the lake beach. Masterfully using the comics medium to juggle all the different characters, weaving their stories together seamlessly, Shaw allows the Loonys' emotions to play out naturally without forced resolutions, leaving a wistful hopefulness that feels just as conflicted and confusing as every family is. (June)
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*Starred Review* Shaw’s huge new work is, like The Mother’s Mouth (2006), about ordinary love. Its scope is, however, as much broader as its six-times-larger size suggests, while its technique is a lot simpler. It’s the story of what may be the last gathering of the Loony family at their oceanside home—last because, after 40 years, Mom and Dad are divorcing. Despite his wife Aki’s attempted calming, elder son Dennis is freaked and, when not out running or minding baby Alex, pokes into every nook and cranny to find incriminating evidence of either parent’s infidelity. Early wed, long-divorced daughter Claire and her daughter, 16-year-old Jill, are accepting and separately get away from the house for some unsatisfactory “social” life. The younger son, aspiring filmmaker Peter, hovers in the background and, mirabile dictu, meets a girl at the beach who actually likes him, as the single panel representing her perspective, in which Shaw draws Peter with a young man’s instead of a frog’s face, confirms. Employing the same cartoony-ness, bold line, and two-tone high contrast as in The Mother’s Mouth but dispensing with that book’s stylistic variety and fantasy effects, Shaw renders in comics situations and characters identical with those of mainstream realistic novels and movies and handles them with the sensitivity and humor of the best humanist novelists and filmmakers. --Ray Olson