Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Down in the Dumps (Lou!)

Down in the Dumps (Lou!)

Julien Neel
Graphic Novel  Series
For ages 10 to 13
Lerner Publishing, 2012   ISBN: 978-0822591658

Lou’s summer vacation is over, she has celebrated her thirteen birthday, and now it is time to go back to school. The school year does not begin well. Lou’s mother is too wrapped up with her boyfriend to even notice that it is the first day of school. As usual Lou walks to school with her best friend Mina. When they get to school the friends find out that they are not in the same class, which makes both of them miserable.

   In her new class Lou sits next to a rather odd and very intense girl called Mary Emily, and when school is over Mina, for some reason, completely ignores Lou. Mina is now hanging out with Karen, a strange looking girl who insults Lou the minute they meet.

   The school year gets progressively worse and worse. Mina continues to refuse to spend time with Lou so Lou ends up hanging out with Mary Emily. Mary Emily is not an unpleasant person, but she is very self-absorbed and she cannot seem to stop talking about her peeves and concerns. The apartment building where Lou’s first crush used to live has been knocked down and Lou does not know how to reply to the letters that her friend Paul sends her.

    Lou’s mother is so absorbed with Richard, her boyfriend, that she does not even see that Lou is not happy. Without a friend or a mother to talk to, Lou struggles alone first real growing pains of teenagedom.

   Growing up is never easy, and in this third Lou graphic novel  Julien Neel beautifully captures how difficult such a time can be for a thirteen-year-old girl. Problems that seem minor to other people are major for Lou, who is seeing the world through a confusing teenage lens. Throughout the book wonderful illustrations are paired with a story that is sometimes sweet or funny and sometimes painful.