"With so many romance tales revolving around star-crossed youngsters, it's pretty refreshing to see a book that takes such an all-encompassing view of a relationship and acknowledges the difficulties people face in coming out at an older age. Based on the early buzz, we expect Bingo
Love will be a major contender for best graphic novel of the year."
"Bingo Love is a phenomenal comic featuring two strong queer, women of color falling in love as teens and rekindling that love as older adults. This fresh take on a second chance at love is so very welcome and necessary, with a hard-hitting storyline that asks important questions about sexuality, societal demands, and living on your own terms. When Hazel and Mari see the same patterns of judgment and anger emerging yet again from a new generation of family, each must decide what is important and whether their love-or any love-should be picked apart and questioned by those on the outside.
Told through playful and boldly colored artwork, this is a story full of determination, courage, and passion that runs from youth to adulthood and beyond." -Teen Vogue
SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL (STARRED) -- Franklin's first full-length graphic novel follows a love story between two black women. Hazel and Mari meet as teenagers in 1963 and become fast friends. A kiss in front of a church turns their relationship into something more. Their romance blossoms until Mari's grandmother catches the couple and her homophobia tears the two apart. As time passes, Hazel marries James and starts a family, and her sexuality becomes invisible to all but her. A serendipitous night out at the bingo hall reunites Hazel and Mari, who are now in their 60s and have a second shot at love. Equally heartwarming and heartbreaking, this roller-coaster romance is a powerful tribute to social change across generations-and a reminder to today's teens about the long struggle for LGBTQ rights. When Hazel comes out to her family as bisexual, James starts to reveal his own hidden past. The text directs readers to online bonus content to find out his secret-an unnecessary distraction from the honesty of the moment and the otherwise sharp characterization. St-Onge's art is cinematic and expressive, brought to vivid life by San's rich colors, and seamlessly connected to Hazel's emotional states.
Scenes from the past have a rosy quality in comparison to the stark present.
VERDICT This tender, beautifully rendered coming-out tale deserves a place in all graphic novel collections.
Bingo Love tells the story of Hazel Johnson and Mari McCray, who, as young teens, meet at a church bingo game in 1963 and become best friends; that friendship grows into love. In the 1960s, social norms prohibited people of the same gender loving each other, and Mari's family moves away. They each marry; Hazel has several children with a husband she does not love. Then, fifty years later, when both are grandmothers, Hazel and Mari meet again. This time, they marry and find happiness with each other. Tee Franklin's graphic novel, illustrated by Jenn St-Onge and colored by Joy San, portrays two women of color and sends a great body-positive message by depicting one of the protagonists as a plump, curvy teen and woman. Teens will possibly relate more to the initial romance, while older readers can appreciate the rekindled relationship fifty years later. Franklin also doesn't shy away from the fact that life does not have a completely “happily ever after.” Her depiction of Hazel taking care of Mari after she starts to suffer from
Alzheimer's brings me to tears every single time I even think about it. Teens whose grandparents or other relatives have dementia or Alzheimer's will understand some of the grief in this last part of the book; for those of us who are older, Bingo Love is truly bittersweet. The book does not show any sexually explicit scenes; it does have a couple of panels with Hazel's daughter-in-law breastfeeding her baby and a couple with Hazel and Mari together in a bubble bath.
AUTOSTRADDLE -- Bingo Love is basically the dream comic for a lot of people; everyone who's been clamoring for a romance comic about queer Black women written by a Black woman and with art by women has gotten exactly what they want. This really does seem like a dream project created by young queer comic fans of color on the internet. This comic, written by Tee Franklin and with art by Jenn St-Onge and Joy San, is about two women who meet as children while at church bingo and then meet again fifty years later,
when they finally come together and are able to express their love and live the life they've wanted to all along. It's sweet, it's adorable and the art is as full of life as the last twenty years of their lives that Hazel and Mari spend together.
LIBRARY JOURNAL -- It's the 1960s, decades before the Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court decision legalized gay marriage. Thirteen-year-old Hazel helps new kid Mari get acquainted with their school, and the girls become best friends. Five years later, they recognize a bond way past friendship, but their horrified African
American families force a separation. Regretfully, each woman gets married and starts a family, having lost track of the other, but a chance meeting over Bingo nearly 50 years later-both are now grandmothers-upends everyone's expectations.
Franklin, who created #BlackComicsMonth, makes her full-length graphic novel debut with this black-queer romance that began as a Kickstarter campaign pulling nearly three times its funding goal. St-Onge (Jem and the Holograms: The
Misfits) brings a curvy charm to the characters, and fans of Alison
Bechdel's Dykes To Watch Out For may see similarities in the wonderfully expressive faces and clothing details. VERDICT Teens and young adults tend to dominate love plots, so it's refreshing to see a romantic tale built around people who age from adolescence through elderhood. Delightful yet realistic, the teen-graded story also works for adults and sophisticated tweens. Indirect sexual references.
Long before legalized gay marriage, 13-year-old Hazel helps new kid Mari get acquainted at school, and the girls become best friends. Later, the bond develops into love, but their horrified families force a separation. As grandmothers 50 years later, they meet by chance over Bingo and everything changes. Drawn with curvy charm, this romantic tale stands out for its cross-gen characters. Teens and adults. (LJ 2/1/18)