I'm not quite sure why it took me so long to read this. I don't mean so long to pick it up, because that wasn't it -- I picked it up, read a bit, put it down, picked it up again, read more, read a couple of novels in between, read more... it just seemed to be a long process, which is unusual for me. It wasn't that I didn't like this book, because I really did. In fact, it keeps growing on me even after I've finished. Images are stuck in my head, and keep popping up at different times, and have been doing that since I started reading it. I think in some ways, I found this book a bit like a hot bath -- very pleasureable, as long as I eased myself into it.
This lovely graphic novel tells the story of Ehwa, a Korean girl growing up in a small village with her widowed mother. It explores love, sexuality, and gender relations and roles, all in a beautifully poetic way. There are some very funny moments, and some very tender moments, and some almost painful moments. There are parts of it that cut a little close to home, which I think was part of my strange reluctance to read it sometimes. Some experiences in growing up are universal, no matter where or when you grew up. That wondering if you're the only one in the world as weird as you are, for example; that feeling of alienation even from those you consider your friends. And that first confusing feeling of love, and then feeling even more confused when you realize there's more than one desireable person out there. I felt very close to Ehwa at many points throughout.
On the whole, I think I enjoyed Ehwa's relationship with her mother the most. This is wonderfully rendered, with Ehwa often seeing more than her mother realizes, and her mother guiding and advising Ehwa honestly and gracefully. I love how supportive they are of each other, and how strong Ehwa's mother is. It's a nice change from a lot of stories I read, where parents are either entirely absent or emotionally absent, or dysfunctional and villainous.
As I said, I'm still turning this one over in my head. It's a story that requires some contemplation and quiet enjoyment. This is a different kind of graphic novel than I'm used to, and I'm very grateful to Mandy, who sent this book my way when I won a giveaway on the Words Worth Books blog. I don't think I would have picked it up otherwise, but I'm very glad I had the opportunity to read it. It reads and proceeds like poetry -- slowly and to be savoured. I'm looking forward to the next two, The Color of Water and The Color of Heaven.