A sweet, funny contemporary teen romance for the inner geek in all of us from graphic novelist Faith Erin Hicks.
Miriam's family should be rich. After all, her grandfather was the co-creator of smash-hit comics series The TomorrowMen. But he sold his rights to the series to his co-creator in the 1960s for practically nothing, and now that's what Miriam has: practically nothing. And practically nothing to look forward to either-how can she afford college when her family can barely keep a roof above their heads? As if she didn't have enough to worry about, Miriam's life gets much more complicated when a cute boy shows up in town . . . and turns out to be the grandson of the man who defrauded Miriam's grandfather, and heir to the TomorrowMen fortune.
In her endearing debut novel, cartoonist Faith Erin Hicks pens a sensitive and funny Romeo and Juliet tale about modern romance, geek royalty, and what it takes to heal the long-festering scars of the past (Spoiler Alert: love).
|Publisher:||Roaring Brook Press|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.40(d)|
|Age Range:||14 - 17 Years|
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Miriam rolled up the sleeves of her too-large work shirt and stood with her hands on her hips, staring at the towering bookshelf in front of her. Someone had been messing with her carefully alphabetized comic book display. Mir eyed the disaster before her: memoir comics by Lynda Barry and Alison Bechdel shoved next to various X-Men trade collections, early volumes of Naruto carelessly shelved beside arty French comics. There was even a copy of a popular kids' graphic novel stuffed between two copies of From Hell, a bloody retelling of Jack the Ripper. With a sigh, Mir tugged the kids' comic off the shelf, and stared at the cover. A round yellow smiley face stared back, grinning. Smile, said the comic's title. Mir frowned at it.
"Don't tell me to smile," Mir muttered. She placed the comic on a nearby shelf and started pulling out the other mis-shelved comics, stacking them in neat piles. Superhero comics to her right, science fiction and horror comics to her left, slice of life and memoir in the middle.
The bell above the Emporium of Wonders' front door jangled. Mir looked up, her hands full of the latest run of Uncanny X-Men. A teenage boy about her age was stepping through the door, looking around curiously. Mir beamed her best smile at him.
"Welcome to the Emporium of Wonders, Sandford's one-stop entertainment shopping spot! If you need help with anything —" Mir glanced down at the piles of comics surrounding her. She was practically walled in.
"Uh, well, just yell if you need help. My boss is in the back, he can give you a hand. Or I'll find a way, somehow," she finished, gesturing at the stacks of books. The boy nodded, his gray eyes crinkling in amusement. He stood in the store's entrance, staring at the displays in front of him. Mir didn't recognize him, which meant he was probably a tourist. It was only the last weekend in April, early for tourists in Sandford, but Mir knew most of the locals her age. Sandford was a very small town.
"This place is ... interesting," the boy said. Mir followed his gaze around the store. The Emporium of Wonders was technically a bookstore, but recently its owner (and Mir's boss), Berg, had decided he wanted to sell toys and games alongside the books, so the inventory could most kindly be referred to as a mishmash. One half of the store was bright and gleaming, superhero action figures and limited-edition vinyl toys stacked neatly on clear glass displays. The book section was shabbier — Mir waging her personal war against improperly shelved books — and slightly dusty paintings of lighthouses and seascapes hung along the back wall. The paintings were all by local Sandford artists, those who weren't quite good enough at painting lighthouses and seascapes to earn a spot at the small galleries down on the waterfront.
"Yep," said Mir cheerfully. "If there's a book or action figure or comic you want, we've probably got it. We have all kinds of things."
The boy took a step forward. Instead of heading into the shiny, toy-centric section, he walked toward the wall hung with local artwork. He stopped in front of a painting of a battered boat at sea and peered at it. The boy's back was to Mir, his hands stuffed in his jacket pockets. He was tall, and bent forward at the waist so he could better see the paintings. Curious, Mir stared at the back of his head. Paintings of artfully distressed maritime objects from the Canadian East Coast were popular among a certain kind of Sandford tourist, but this boy didn't look anything like that demographic.
The boy straightened and quickly stepped to his right, to study another painting. Mir blinked, then tore herself away from staring. These comics wouldn't alphabetize themselves.
Mir pulled the remaining mis-shelved comics from the bookcase, carefully slipping each book back in its appropriate spot. She lined up the cheerful, brightly colored spines of the kids' graphic novels, stacked the Hellboy collections in a neat row of black and red, and was just finishing sorting the superhero comics when the boy spoke behind her.
"Is this the TomorrowMen?"
Mir looked up. He was still bent forward, peering intently at a painting of two superheroes, a man and a woman, standing on the edge of a building. The man seemed to shine like a beacon in the painting. He was dressed in red and gold, and his red cape swirled around him, caught by an unseen breeze. His face was bare; he didn't hide his identity with a mask. The woman was painted with more subtle colors, her costume muted purples and golds. She wore a cat's-eye mask, and her dark hair swirled upward in a fantastic 1960s updo.
Mir's mother, Stella, had made the painting.
Mir stood up, rolled down the sleeves on her work shirt, and walked toward the boy.
"Yeah, it's Skylark and Skybound, the two most powerful TomorrowMen." Mir felt a twinge of annoyance at his interest in the painting. She remembered the fight she'd had with her mother over it, how she'd yelled that it didn't make sense for Stella to sell her artwork if she was going to charge so little. Stella could charge hundreds of dollars if she wanted to; she knew that there were TomorrowMen-mad collectors out there, eager to spend real money on original artwork of Skylark and Skybound. But Mir's mother had remained resolute, stubbornly devoted to her price no matter how much Mir yelled.
"You have a bunch of TomorrowMen stuff here," the boy said, his arm sweeping back to take in the shiny, toy-infested section of the Emporium of Wonders, "but I wasn't expecting original art. It's really cool."
"Yeah, it is," said Mir. She did think the painting was cool. She loved how her mother painted, how she mixed her colors and used reds and browns and purples to blend the perfect skin tone. How she edged her figures with the tiniest bit of yellow, like they were radiating light. She wished she could stop fighting with her mother about her art.
"I like that they're in their original costumes," the boy said. He pointed at Skylark's outfit, a snug bodysuit with tall boots and a waist-length cape. "They've had, what, like fifty costumes in the comics over the last forty years? But there's something perfect about the original costumes. Definitely my favorite."
"They're pretty great," agreed Mir.
The boy turned away from her, hands stuck back in his jacket pockets, and stared at the two figures in the painting.
"I wish they were using these costumes in the movie," he said.
Mir smiled, grateful. "I wish they were too," she said. "Have you seen the latest stills from the movie? They got rid of Skybound's cape." Mir had seen every leaked image from the upcoming movie, every stolen shot of the actors filming on the streets of New York. She'd cringed at Skylark's dull gray-and-black costume and Skybound's cape-less shoulders. They hadn't looked anything like the characters she knew, the comic-book weirdness and bright colors leached out of them.
"It's a tragedy," the boy said, solemnly shaking his head. "He just doesn't look right without the cape."
"He doesn't," Mir said.
"I keep hoping the filmmakers will change the costumes before the movie comes out," he said. "It's not out until next year, so there's still time."
The boy smiled at her, and the hairs on the back of Mir's neck stood up. His smile was wide and gorgeous, and the air around him seemed to brighten because of it.
"Maybe," Mir said, feeling generous so close to this boy's smile.
"I don't normally care about comic book movies, I swear," the boy laughed. "But I grew up with TomorrowMen comics. They deserve a good movie. Like, Sam Raimi Spider-Man 2 good. Or Superman II good. Those are my favorites."
"I like Superman II," Mir agreed.
"Everyone likes Superman II." Again the boy grinned, catching Mir in the brightness of his smile.
The boy turned back to the painting.
"How much is it?"
"I'm sorry?" Mir asked blankly.
"The painting," said the boy, pointing up at it. "How much is it?"
Mir stared. "You want to buy it?"
The boy blinked, confused at Mir's question.
"It's not for sale?" he asked. "I just thought — y'know, it's here with all these other paintings and they all seem to be for sale, so I thought maybe it was for sale too. I really like it."
"It's for sale," Mir said, "but it's not —" Suddenly she realized what she was going to say and got nervous. Who was this boy? She didn't know anything about him.
"It's — it's an original painting, but it's ... unlicensed, I guess? It's not from Warrick Studios, the TomorrowMen comics publisher ..." She trailed off.
Mir and the boy stared at each other, and in a rush she noticed three things about him: one, he was at least four inches taller than her. Two, he had a slightly crooked nose that made him terribly cute; and three, he was dressed expensively. She hadn't noticed his clothes at first, but now that she was really looking at him, trying to figure out if he was going to cause a problem for Stella, who almost exclusively painted (and sometimes sold) portraits of the TomorrowMen, she saw how well fitted his jacket and jeans were. How they had nice seams and were cut as though someone had made them specifically for his body.
"Hey, what's your name?" said the boy.
"Mir," she said.
"Miriam. Mir for short."
"Cool," he said. "I'm Weldon, and I think that painting is awesome. Whoever painted it is really great at painting the TomorrowMen, and I'm not going to rat them out to Warrick Studios because something that awesome isn't piracy, it's art."
"Okay, cool," Mir said, relieved.
"Seriously, Mir," said Weldon. "It's completely amazing. You gonna tell me how much you want for it?"
Mir took a deep breath. Here we go, she thought.
"Twenty-eight dollars and seventy cents."
Weldon's eyebrows shot up.
"But it's an original. I mean, whoever painted it must've spent hours —"
"Yeah, well." Mir sighed. "My mo — the artist charges the exact amount of money they spent making the painting. So, canvas, sixteen dollars. Paints, eight dollars. And so on. Because, y'know, they think charging for art is ... not cool, I guess."
"Doing it for love, not money," Weldon said, nodding seriously. "I admire that." Mir felt a white-hot flash of annoyance. Of course the boy in the designer jeans would approve of Stella's pricing system. People who had money always thought it was noble not to care about it.
She unhooked the painting from the wall, sneaking one last look at it as she rang up Weldon's purchase and slipped the canvas into a paper bag. She'd miss it. It had been comforting to look up at Skylark and Skybound at the end of a long day and imagine there was something powerfully good in the world.
Mir watched Weldon leave the store, the painting tucked under his arm. The car he headed toward was a beat-up Hyundai, not a rich-kid car. Mir felt herself warming to him again when he opened the door to the Hyundai. Maybe she'd misjudged him. Maybe his parents bought his clothes, but he had to work for his car. She liked the idea of him toiling away somewhere to pay for gas, changing the oil on the Hyundai himself to save money.
Another car skidded into the parking lot, tires shrieking in protest. Everything happened very fast: three teenage boys slid from the car, fists clenched, ready for violence. Mir recognized them from her high school, older boys known for getting into fights and cutting class. She'd always tried to avoid them, and eventually they'd stopped coming to school. Mir wasn't sure if they'd graduated or not. Now, Weldon turned toward the three boys, as though he'd been expecting them. He leaned Stella's painting against the car and walked straight at them, his step almost jaunty. They all came together in a furious clash.
Mir was already clawing her way over the store counter, screeching at Berg to call the police. This was a fight that meant business. She skidded through the front door and stopped short, trying to figure out what to do.
Weldon's hands blurred as he swung. Mir could tell he would lose; three to one wasn't a fair fight and the other boys were bigger than him. The group came in close, then went down in a pile of arms and legs. One of the boys ended up crouched on top of Weldon, pummeling him. Weldon twisted, his arms curled protectively over his face. It occurred to Mir as she scrambled toward the little utility shed next to the Emporium of Wonders that Weldon's nose might not have been originally so crooked, but had been smashed into its particular shape through violence.
Mir saw Weldon wiggle out from under his assailant and wrap his arms around the boy's torso, heaving him off the ground. The force of the lift propelled the pair onto the hood of the Hyundai. As the other two boys charged the car, Mir caught them full in the face with a torrent of water from the garden hose. They staggered backward, hands held up against the water.
The boy on the hood of the Hyundai grabbed a fistful of Weldon's collar and bent his head back. Mir turned and hit both of them with the water from the hose, and they slid down the car, drenched. Weldon's attacker was on his feet first, face murderous. He wheeled toward Mir. Someone was screaming "Stopstopstopstopstop!!" and Mir realized with surprise that it was her.
The boy came at her. Mir saw his angry hands reaching for her — and he jerked up short as Weldon grabbed his legs from behind.
Sirens wailed in the distance, and the three boys' heads snapped up. The one snared by Weldon kicked backward and wrestled free. Another boy grabbed the car keys off the ground and swung into the Hyundai. The two cars peeled out of the Emporium of Wonders parking lot, tires blowing smoke. Stella's painting thumped softly on the pavement.
Mir shut off the hose. It suddenly seemed very quiet.
Weldon was still on the ground. He rolled onto his side and stared up at Mir. His eye was swelling, but otherwise he seemed unharmed. He grinned a shining, gorgeous smile.
"The police — the police are coming," Mir said. Her hands, still clutching the hose, were shaking.
"Oh, that's not so good. I'm not really keen on talking to them," Weldon said.
Mir stared at him.
Still on the ground, Weldon stared dreamily toward where the two cars had sped off.
"Because I kind of stole that Hyundai."
The police car skidded into the Emporium of Wonders' parking lot, two officers hopping out of the vehicle with barely disguised glee. Not much happened in Sandford, and Mir could tell the officers were delighted at the chance to use their siren.
"You gonna tell the police?" said Weldon, pushing himself onto his hands and knees. Mir looked down at the back of his head. She remembered him wrapping his arms around the legs of the boy charging at her.
"They got their car back, didn't they?" Mir said, nodding in the direction the three boys had driven off. She tossed the garden hose away, then bent and picked up her mother's painting, inspecting it for damage. To her relief, Mir saw the brown paper she'd wrapped it in had protected it when it had hit the pavement. She tucked the painting under her arm and reached out her free hand to help Weldon up. He wobbled when he stood, his hand flailing briefly, then settling onto her shoulder for balance. She moved her hand under his elbow, ready to grab him if he fell. The hand on her shoulder was very warm, she noted absently.
"What happened here?"
One of the police officers was attempting to loom over them. He wasn't particularly tall, which made the looming seem more like rude crowding. Mir fought the urge to roll her eyes. She'd seen this officer before, napping in his cruiser on one of Sandford's sparsely traveled back roads. Now he looked as excited as a kid on his birthday. The other officer, a woman Mir didn't recognize, had her notepad out, pencil poised over a blank page.
"A fight," said Weldon. He wobbled again as he pointed toward the Emporium of Wonders. "I bought something in that store, and when I came out three guys pulled into the parking lot. We ... exchanged some words."
Mir stood next to Weldon, watching him out of the corner of her eye. He looked directly at the police officers when he talked, his face open and earnest. Except for the occasional wobble, his hand tightening not-unpleasantly on Mir's shoulder, he seemed completely relaxed. She was amazed at his calm, as though he hadn't been nearly beaten to a pulp by three other boys and wasn't currently lying to the police.
When Weldon was done telling his story, the two cops turned to confer with each other. Weldon, no longer wobbling but still with his hand on Mir's shoulder, reached for the painting.
"Here," he said. "I'll hold it."
"I don't mind," said Mir, but handed the painting over anyway.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Comics Will Break Your Heart Sneak Peek Chapter 1-5"
Copyright © 2019 Faith Erin Hicks.
Excerpted by permission of Roaring Brook Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Comics Will Break Your Heart is a Romeo & Juliet-style young adult romance that features the youngest generation of two feuding comics families. Miriam's mother settled the big lawsuit case years ago, after her father died, but now the TomorrowMen franchise is massive and has spawned a sure-to-be-huge live action film. Miriam is resentful, even before the scion of the Warrick family, Weldon, shows up in town for the summer. Weldon has been sent back to his father's hometown so as to "not be a distraction" to his father. As you might expect, both kids have baggage they need to unpack. This worked well as a coming-of-age story, even if there was honestly not much of the "two rival houses" conflict that I was expecting. Miriam's mom is very chill and loves to paint and Weldon's dad is the stereotypical industry bigwig who's lost the soul of the comics. If the two of them had been the romantic pairing, I would have expected more fireworks. As it was, the story unfolds in a somewhat sleepy, somewhat angsty way, with more focus on the themes of money-can't-buy-happiness and be-grateful-for-what-you-have than I expected. Miriam's BFF's boyfriend is a total jerk to her, in no small part because he sees that her mom paid off their mortgage with the settlement and he thinks her financial woes are trivial. He may have a point, but so does Miriam. Weldon came off as a sad little rich kid and I had a hard time feeling sorry for him, especially since we first meet him when he's just stolen a car. There's no discussion of the fact that since he's a rich white kid, he gets away with this crap. Overall, I'm glad I read the book. I've loved Faith Erin Hicks's comics for years, and I genuinely enjoyed all the comics nerdery in this novel. It works well as a coming-of-age story and as a romance, but it isn't quite the feud I was expecting. I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley for review.
The minute I read the synopsis to this book, all the way last August, MY NERDY LITTLE HEART WAS OH SO CURIOUS. Two co-creators of a famous superhero comic series, whose families are stuck in years of rivalry and misunderstanding and now their GRANDCHILDREN ARE FALLING FOR EACH OTHER? Yeah, sign me up. IN A NUTSHELL: Comics Will Break Your Heart was a feel-good PG-13 romance with a love for superheroes, comics and story-telling in the background, good secondary characters and actually present families (this actually shocked me) THINGS I LIKED: 1. NERDY COMICS AND SUPERHERO BACKGROUND: I mean. There was all this talk about Comic con and the TomorrowMen Movie, original comics, trailers, art, new stories and I just felt like I BELONGED IN THIS WORLD? 2. FAMILIES ARE ACTUALLY PRESENT: It’s become a pet peeve for me, when YA novels don’t have parents around so the plot line (AHEM: ROMANCE/ SUPERNATURAL STUFF) can advance, but I quite loved that parents were actually present in this book and were a major part of the decision-making/ motivation process between both our protagonists. 3. UNDERSTATED ROMANCE: I liked the slow-burn romance between Miriam and Weldon. I was actually expecting it to be a hate-to-love type of romance but I ended up liking this better. 4. DID I ALREADY SAY SUPERHEROES AND ALL THE NERDY THINGS? THINGS THAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER: 1. I had a little bit of a rocky start with Comics Will Break Your Heart especially in terms of character development. At first, for the first 50 pages or so, the characters seemed underdeveloped but they did grow through this 300-page book. 2. NOT ENOUGH DRAMA? OR RIVALRY? I guess I was really expecting some major family rivalry. I loved how Miriam’s mom reacted to the situation like a true grown-up, but I wish there was a TAD MORE DRAMA overall, especially since the blurb promises one. Would I recommend this book? To all you nerdy souls looking for a feel-good romance, pick up Comics Will Break Your Heart.
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher I was able to read this book in exchange for an honest review. *** Comics Will Break Your Heart is a tender love story and an ode to comic books and all the various kinds of people that love them. Mir(iam) Kendrick has some important decisions to think about, largely around the, “What are you going to do with your future?” variety. Her family is well off enough but not the type where it’ll make going to college any easier for her, and she doesn’t even know what she wants to focus on. Her best friend is growing distant from her the closer she gets to her boyfriend, who is unusually hostile to Mir, and her other best friend has a crush on her that she doesn’t reciprocate. Weldon Warrick has been shipped off to spend the summer with his aunt and uncle to keep him out of trouble and underfoot of his father whose about to bring the comic book series Tomorrowmen to cinematic glory after a messy legal battle that’s kept it on hold for years. Weldon is struggling to find himself after his parents separation and his fathers obsession with his work. Shipped out to a small town, lacking the kind of life he’s used to in L. A., Weldon finds himself stumbling into Mir and then deliberately searching her out as he finds himself drawn to her and she to him. Things aren’t easy for these two. The messy legal battle that held the movie made up? Was from Mir’s grandpa, the original artist for Tomorrowmen, who felt he was cut out of profits he deserved. Mir struggles with jealousy, anger and a whole host of insecurities and what ifs that hold her back. Thankfully for Mir she has two really great, present parents. I loved Henry and Stella, they were a dynamic couple and I loved how important they were to Mir and she to them. Weldon wants the family that Mir has and Mir wants the life Weldon has access to. The romance is slow and sweet and by the end, very hopeful and filled with potential. I loved this story and can’t wait for it to be published and other readers to love it too.
When I read the premise of Comics Will Break Your Heart, I was all for it. Not only am I a fan of Faith Erin Hicks, but this story is a hate-to-love trope revolving around the world of comic books. Can it get any better than that? No, no it can't. In a Romeo and Juliet style, Comics Will Break Your Heart is about Miriam, and the struggle that she calls her life. Mir questions choices, like most teens do, but in this case, she questions if she should continue with her life, her future, if her family can't barely continue with today. The story starts off with a bang. A meeting of Miriam and Weldon, our fated Romeo and Juliet, a fight, and cops. It's an amazing first chapter, and it catapults the story into this superhero trajectory. I adore Weldon. And while some may say "first-world-problems," emotions are a valid thing. We all want to be love, despite what fortunes life affords us. And Mir. Ugh, my heart breaks for her. We have all been in the place of insecurities and uncertainties. She is on the opposite side of the life spectrum, but her emotions are also a valid thing. Comics Will Break Your Heart talks about the upside and the downside of riches. But there is so much that goes on within the pages of this book. There are tones of family, loyalty, and forgiveness. And why I won't seclude it to just financial riches, Faith does a great job talking about these topics in the most relatable way. I enjoyed this so much, and I think you will to. *Thank you to the publisher for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.*
I was absolutely blown away by this book. It was just as charming and lovely as Geekerella and I think fans of that book will gobble this one up. I loved that this was a new spin on Romeo and Juliet. The plot wasn't the strong suit of this book. The characterization of this book was the real star. I was floored by how real and fleshed out the characters were. We saw a friend break-up and the consequences of that. We also saw Mir have to make a hard decision about what she wanted and how that would affect her family and friendships. I loved that this big issue of comic rights was so murky and real. Each side had a different story and a different view of who was right and wrong, whereas the truth lay somewhere in the middle. We got to see how this one decision, made generations ago, affected families and lives. The parents were flawed, real people and we got a look into their lives. We saw a divorce and the nasty, lingering pain. We also saw a very healthy relationship between parents. We saw a healthy parent-child relationship and a toxic one. I think this ticks off so many of the boxes that are missing in YA books these days that people are really wanting. It was heartwarming, swoony, and real. I think anyone who reads this book will take something away from it. They'll find themselves in one of these characters or recognize a struggle they're having. I really loved the very real problems this book tackled. It didn't really solve any of them, but these problems aren't those to be solved. They're ever changing and evolving. This book tackled a lot of complex issues that don't really have an answer and I think we need to be showing this more to teens. There's not always an answer and that's okay. Sometimes you just have to do what's best for you at the moment and that's what Mir taught me. *I received a complimentary copy of this book from Roaring Book Press through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.*