Le bleu est une couleur chaude
Could it be that no book ever moved me as much as the graphic novel I just read and portrays characters I share nothing with?
Some of you might remember the few words I wrote a year ago about the operation against homophobia organized by a French graphic artist. I was very touched by her art and what she was saying back then so I kept on reading her blog. I learnt that she had been working on a graphic novel for 5 years. A very personal project… which made me curious. The book finally came out last month and I was eagerly looking forward to reading it. My expectations were already high and I kept on reading amazing comments about people who said that book touched them deeply, made them cry and almost changed their live. It often sucks to let your expectation sky rocket like that because you often end up disappointed by something that’s actually good but of which you were expecting too much. Yesterday, as I was in Bruxelles for work, I visited several book stores and I finally found it: “Le bleu est une couleur chaude” by “Julie Maroh“. In the train back to Utrecht, as I was opening the book, as wondered if I would be upset at myself for spoiling another good book by letting my expectation climb the Everest.
Well… no disappointment this time. I think nothing could have spoiled this one. I spent half the day today wondering if any other book ever moved me that much before. While I don’t read as much as I used to, some books had a major impact on me in the past, but nothing like this one before. It is even more strange considering that I don’t have much in common with the main characters of the story. I am not exactly a female teenager torn by the discovery of her sexuality and I am not a female art student involved in gay rights protests either. But the intensity of the relationship between these two characters and the way it is depicted is so strong that it will move anyone with a heart. Of course, it is in many ways a manifest for tolerance towards gays and lesbians. The author actually said she hopes it will open the mind of some people… I am sure it will. It will because it shows how universal some feelings like love are, regardless of one’s gender or sexual orientation. Anyone who ever loved someone and remembers his/her adolescence will recognize himself/herself at some point in Clementine. How much you will identify to either character will of course depend one your own experience but, in any case, as the story goes, you feel for Clementine and Emma, care for them and cry for them. Some of the scenes and thoughts of the story echoed so strongly in my mind that the book left me in chock and terribly sad but I was worth it. I won’t say much more because what touched me the most might not be what will you touch you the most. Let me just add (because I realize I almost only talked about the story so far) that the drawings are beautiful and the intensity of some of the facial expressions is almost disturbing. When a character feels bad, you feel bad too. Another graphic particularity is the use of black and white for all the flash backs (most of the book) with the exception of the color blue that represents the person Clementine loves (hence, the title of the book). Anyway, if you didn’t get my point yet, this book is a gem.
I am not really good a telling the plot of a book or a movie so I’ll just translate (roughly, ) from French what’s written on the back of the cover.
« My blue angel,
blue like the sky,
blue like rivers,
Origin of life…»
Clémentine’s life changes on the day she meets Emma, a young girl with blue hairs, who initiates her to all the sides of pleasure.
Emma will also help Clementine face the way people look at her.
A tender and sensitive story.
What I can add (and that’s not a spoiler) is that the story begins as Emma recovers Clementine diary. In it, Clementine explains what her life of average teenage girl was until she meets Emma. As the story unfolds, Clementine faces confusing feelings and doesn’t know anymore who she is. She will also learn what it means (and implies) to be different in our society. Page after page, Emma reads the life of the one she loved and who loved her until the end.” I suck at describing stories but I hope this will draw your attention on this amazing book. Better yet, if you can understand French, listen to this interview of the author: http://www.radiopfm.com/spip.php?article2306. Anyway, I had to talk about it because this book is so incredible. The odds are that I’ll talk again about it again in the future.
PS: Yes, once more I’m taking about something that’s in French and most you you can’t read it… But if you ever need a good reason to learn French, now you’ve got one.
 Pretty hard to translate actually. How would you say “le regard des autres” in English for instance?