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The Magic Fish: 04/11/21
The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen is a nuanced and layered YA graphic novel. Stories are woven together into one beautiful book that could honestly take a much longer and in depth analysis than what this short blog post will provide.
In the present it's about Tiēn wanting to tell his parents he's gay and hoping the boy he's been friends with for years also has feelings for him. In the past it's about how Tiēn's parents met and were forced to flee Vietnam. In the fairy tale it's about a young woman heading out on her own to avoid a life she doesn't want.
Throughout the book is about family, sacrifices for love, self esteem, and choices. Family is blood. Family is found. Family is friendship. Sacrifices can be leaving loved ones behind. They can be missing important events because money is tight. It can be having to mend and re-mend old things because new things are out of reach. Self esteem is self love. It's keeping secrets. It's leaving toxic people behind. It's taking chances on who to trust. It's being open. Choices are what gets a person through life. Good choices. Bad choices. Choices made when no option seems good.
Throughout this story is beautifully illustrated by the author. Two thirds of the book were hand drawn with traditional media. The last third was done digitally. If the introduction didn't mention the switch in technique, I wouldn't have noticed.