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Generations Paperback – October 24, 2017
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Story: Teo returns to his small Italian village in defeat; he left to pursue a relationship with a man he met online, living in the big city of Milan with the hope to finally be himself. But three years later, he has no job, no income, and his relationship has ended. Now he has to face the family he left behind: the father with whom he clashed when he ran away, the Aunts who he never understood, and the grandmother who always supported him. He knows he cannot return to his father and so chooses to live with his grandmother and three single Aunts, as well as his very pregnant cousin. It's a full house and he's about to be given life lessons as he learns to adapt to his new life.
Although Generations has a gay hero, his lifestyle is not really the heart of Generations. Rather, the book is about Teo finding perspective through the lives of us family. Each of the Aunts has led an interesting life and he soon realizes that he knows very little about them - it's always been about Te0 battling against no one understanding him, when he never took the time to understood everyone else. It's a beautiful juxtaposition that is gently discovered in time. One Aunt was happily married, widowed, and now with no children, one Sunt had a child out of wedlock with a wealthy married man but never married herself, and one Aunt became a spinster. Their personalities are very much shaped by their life situations.
A protagonist so down on his life - dumped, poor, and no place to go - could be a very downer of a book. And there are no miracles to be found here. Teo works with his quirky family as they work with or around him. It is in the slow reveal of the Aunts, his grandmother, and even his cousin that we (and Teo) get a true understanding of life. Yet surprisingly, this is anything but a downer of a book. At not time does the story wallow in Teo's unhappiness or misery. It's about him moving away from taking life one day at a time and instead understanding the long road.
This is one of the sweetest and most grounded stories I've read in quite awhile. I enjoyed every part of the book - from provincial Italian life to the fascinating (yet not sensationalist or overreaching) backstories that made up the adults. The Aunts are not perfect and made their mistakes, for better or worse. Their experiences are the lessons Teo has to learn in order to really know what he wants in life and how to approach it.
In essence, Generations is about Teo's transition from lost to found. There is no deus ex machina or overdramatic moments. It's a simple yet beautifully told story that keeps you interested, a wonderful look at Italian culture but also the issues that Millennials face in today's world.
You will find fewer allegories as rich yet poetic as Generations does for the Millennial generation. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.
Matteo ran away from home three years ago to Milan, but now he’s slinking back to his small country town to live with his grandmother and his three aunts. He’s embarrassed that his life hasn’t been working out as planned, he feels like a failure, and he hasn’t spoken to his father because Matteo doesn’t believe dad accepts his coming out as gay.
The art is European, which means to me detailed, with a focus on character expression and unspoken feelings. Yet it’s unique in style, without too many fiddly bits, focusing only on what’s important to tell this story and establish these people as substantial and relatable in a fully realized environment.
The conflict between the mores of a new generation and the hidebound expectations of older people is a timeless one to portray, but Biondi deepens her story by also making Generations the story of Matteo learning a lot about himself, including finding a purpose. He’s been escaping from difficult situations, running away from struggle. Learning to care for his grandmother, a diabetic wheelchair user, has given him new appreciation for life skills. He also comes to understand giving people the benefit of the doubt and being willing to fight for what he believes in.
This is a particularly good read for the teen/young adult market. Matteo’s internal monologue is clear and straightforward about his feelings and how he changes, without being patronizing or sledgehammer-heavy. Although he starts out aimless (and I tend to agree with his self-assessment), I was rooting for him by the end, particularly once he started looking outside himself. Generations is an easy read that sneaks in empathy for Matteo and those like him. (The publisher provided a digital review copy. Review originally posted at ComicsWorthReading.com.)
This story is not what you think it is. At a distance, you think it's an autobiographical comic book novel about Matteo coming to terms with his personal drama. But really it's about his family's drama. He slowly learns that his drama isn't all, and it recedes into the background as he finds more about their drama. And, really, it's fiction and is written by a woman. Surprises when you look close.... It is full of them. Like, his nan gets visits from a handsome male nurse who loans him money and takes him for long walks in the forest, and you think, oh, they will get together, but don't assume. Surprises... this book is full of them... You wouldn't guess who does and doesn't have a problem with Matteo being gay. It wasn't all in his head when he left at 19, but almost every detail of it was since he never came out to anyone in his hometown.
Graphics are realistic and well done. It's printed in greyscale: black white and grey, and a high quality print job. All characters are drawn realistically and family members look the same, but you can identify them from page to page. The graphics keep the story moving and help seamlessly tell it. That's hard to do and done perfectly here.
Characters and story are very well developed and the story is well contained. It stands on it's own.
If this sounds like you would like it then you probably will.
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