From the Harvey and Lulu award–winning creator of Artbabe comes this riveting story of a young woman’s misadventures in Mexico City. Carla, an American estranged from her Mexican father, heads to Mexico City to “find herself.” She crashes with a former fling, Harry, who has been drinking his way through the capital in the great tradition of his heroes, William S. Burroughs and Jack Kerouac. Harry is good—humored about Carla’s reappearance on his doorstep—until he realizes that Carla, who spends her days soaking in the city, exploring Frida Kahlo’s house, and learning Spanish, has no intention of leaving.
When Harry and Carla’s relationship of mutual tolerance reaches its inevitable end, she rejects his world of Anglo expats for her own set of friends: pretty-boy Oscar, who sells pot and dreams of being a DJ, and charismatic Memo, a left-wing, pseudo–intellectual ladies’ man. Determined to experience the real Mexico, Carla turns a blind eye to her new friends’ inconsistencies. But then she catches the eye of a drug don, el Gordo, and from that moment on her life gets a lot more complicated, and she is forced to confront the irreparable consequences of her willful innocence.
Jessica Abel’s evocative black–and–white drawings and creative mix of English and Spanish bring Mexico City’s past and present to life, unfurling Carla’s dark history against the legacies of Burroughs and Kahlo. A story about the youthful desire to live an authentic life and the consequences of trusting easy answers, La Perdida–at once grounded in the particulars of life in Mexico and resonantly universal–is a story about finding oneself by getting lost.
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Jessica Abel is the author of Soundtrack and Mirror, Window, two collections that gather stories and drawings from her comic book Artbabe, which she published between 1992 and 1999. She also collaborated with Ira Glass on Radio: An Illustrated Guide, a nonfiction comic about how the public radio program This American Life is made. Abel won both the Harvey and Lulu awards for Best New Talent in 1997; La Perdida won the 2002 Harvey Award for Best New Series. Abel’s young adult novel, Carmina, is forthcoming in 2007, and she is currently collaborating on another graphic novel, Life Sucks, and a textbook about making comics.From School Library Journal:
Grade 10 Up–Twenty-something American slacker Carla moves to Mexico, land of her long-lost father. She crashes at the apartment of her ex-boyfriend, a wealthy, WASPy American who socializes mostly with people like himself. Carla soon meets some locals, wannabe revolutionary Memo and wannabe DJ Oscar. After moving in with Oscar, she becomes less engaged in society, rarely interacting outside of this limited group. As she becomes even less involved, her naïveté allows some horrible events to occur. While readers see the writing on the wall long before Carla catches on, she is still a sympathetic heroine. This is Abels first full-length graphic novel after her Artbabe comic and collections (Fantagraphics), and its both simple and ambitious. The black-and-white artwork is sketchy, but evocative. The story is intricately plotted and suspenseful. The decision to write the first chapters dialogue in Spanish, translated at the bottom of the panels, is interesting. Later, when Spanish is spoken predominantly, all of the dialogue is in English, putting words that were actually spoken in English in brackets. This not only reflects Carlas move into Spanish, but also allows readers to feel more strongly her lack of knowledge upon arriving in Mexico. The lengthy glossary defines Spanish words, phrases, vulgarities, and characters and places referenced in the text. Abel has successfully portrayed characters both on the fringes of society, and those who wish that they were.–Jamie Watson, Harford County Public Library, MD
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