This past week I read a new book---actually new to English readers----put out by Top Shelf called Lucille. Written and drawn by french cartoonist Ludovic Debeurme, Lucille looks at the lives of two teenagers as they both struggle with very difficult situations. For reasons that are explored quite well in the book but I won’t go into here, Lucille herself is severely depressed and an anorexic. Arthur faces all kind of complicated emotions, since he was the final albeit unintentional catalyst that caused his father to lose his job as a fisherman and take his own life. Arthur and Lucille meet randomly, join forces and set out on the road together on a European tour, forcing them to discover themselves, discover one another and confront many of the issues they’ve kept bottled up for so long.
This little rant isn’t so much a review as it is a discussion with myself over some of the difficulties I sometimes struggle with when it comes to teen-oriented graphic novels. As far as topic and theme, Lucille is a fantastic book for teens. It explores some very difficult issues but in a manner that’s personal, moving and, perhaps most important for a teen book, accessible. Debeurme’s artwork seems simple, maybe even crude, at first. But it matches quite well with the story and there are some images that stab you right in the heart.
But there are two scenes in the book that portray man-on-woman oral sex. It’s not overly graphic but it’s certainly obvious what’s going on. Personally I don’t have a problem with it. There’s a purpose to both scenes and they play powerfully into Lucille’s disturbed psychology in a way that anyone who’s experienced abuse of any kind will certainly understand. So while I would love to be able to hand this book to teens coming into my library, especially any struggling with issues like these, I know doing so would likely get me in a big heap of trouble solely because of these two illustrations. Adapt this book to one of complete prose and fewer people would have any issue with the book. Heck, find a way to take out those two scenes without cutting the power of the book (which I don’t think is possible) and people would have a hard time arguing against this book in any way.To be fair, Top Shelf isn’t marketing this as a Young Adult/Teen book. And I don’t know that the creator intended it to be one, either. I don’t have an answer here, it’s just something I’m struggling with right now.