Notes for a War Story

by Gipi

Publisher: First Second Books

Format: Softcover, 6x19, full color, $16.95

ISBN: 978-1-59643-261-1

Reviewed by: School Library Journal

On January 18th, in an unnamed Balkan country, war breaks out. Caught up in adolescence, Giuliano and his friends invent new measures of manhood. Can't walk calmly under threat of sniper fire? Points off. While trying to sell stolen goods, the budding criminals meet up with Felix. The epitome of "man," he is served well by the war. He exposes the teens to the lure of money, guns, and violence. Raised in a middle-class family, Giuliano struggles to fit in with his friends. Yet, he can't escape the nagging thought that it's not his war–neither the physical fighting nor the one that his friends are launching against their lower-class lives. As Little Killer and Christian race toward their fate, the protagonist must decide who he is. Like Stassen's powerful Deogratias, a Tale of Rwanda (Roaring Brook, 2006), Gipi reveals the susceptible nature of teenagers during wartime. The oil drawings are tinged in gray, giving a sense of hopelessness as, years later, Giuliano doubts his decision. The all-male cast has sharp teeth and squinty eyes that reflect their rabid world. Teens won’t rush toward this title but they should. It's both a warning and an inevitable story about a boy becoming a man under the most extreme conditions. Once they see themselves in Giuliano, they won’t likely forget his memories.
–Sadie Mattox, DeKalb County Public Library, Decatur, GA