Review: Page by Paige – Laura Lee Gulledge

page by paige

Title: Page by Paige
Author: Laura Lee Gulledge
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams
Publication Date: May 1, 2011
Source/Format: Library / Paperback, 192 pages
Opening Sentence: “Today is my third day living in New York.”
Author Website | Goodreads | Amazon

Paige Turner has just moved to New York with her family, and she’s having some trouble adjusting to the big city. In the pages of her sketchbook, she tries to make sense of her new life, including trying out her secret identity: artist. As she makes friends and starts to explore the city, she slowly brings her secret identity out into the open, a process that is equal parts terrifying and rewarding.
Laura Lee Gulledge crafts stories and panels with images that are thought-provoking, funny, and emotionally resonant. Teens struggling to find their place can see themselves in Paige’s honest, heartfelt story.

My sister brought home Page by Paige and mentioned something to me about reading it. I don’t usually read graphic novels or comics, but I gave this one a try because 1) it’s realistic fiction and 2) according to the sticker on the front cover it was a “Teen’s Top Ten” choice in my county’s library system. And I was also hearing decent things about it on the interwebs. I dove right in and, for the most part, I was impressed.

At the top of the list: I really love the artwork within Paige’s pages. (Do you get it? Har har.) The gray scale drawings are a mixture of simple and highly detailed depending on, it seems, whether they’re real happenings in her life or images from “inside” her head. I’m no art expert, but to someone with an untrained eye the technical details and beauty is fantastic.
The dialogue, on the other hand, wasn’t so fantastic. Several times I found myself claiming that no one talks one way or another shown in the book. It seemed a little stiff, maybe even molded, to me on more than one occasion.

The story also adds to that problem. Am I the only one who felt like things came a bit easily to Paige? Yes, she did have some struggles, but it seemed like a lot of the book was her walking around claiming she wants something and then just getting it with minimal effort. I’m aware this is a relatively short graphic novel and maybe not everything has to be worked out and explained, but it was all a tad too bubble-gum-pop for me.

I will admit I really liked the rules that Paige’s story was moving with. It set the pacing well, but also gave a purpose to what Paige wanted. She didn’t just want to be an artist. She was inspired by her grandmother and wanted to be an artist too, so she used the rules her grandmother made up to help her along the way. It made the story more personal while also adding some structure. Brava! to Gulledge for that one.

In my notebook one of the last things I wrote reads: “Corniness and occasional lapse in realism aside, I quite liked this one.” I’ll stick beside that opinion. In all honestly, sometimes you have to corn it up and go with something bubble-gum-pop that works out in the end. (Yes, I know I said we were corning, but then bubble gummed instead.) There’s no false advertising going on here. From the looks of the cover one can assimilate the book is going to be light. I just wish it were fleshed out more than it was.

Rating: 3 of 5 stars

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