By Sam King
Luisa: Now and Then is a story in which a girl is able to simultaneously see who she once was, who she has become, and possibly discover who she could be in the middle of it all. It is a coming of age story, a story of a sort of midlife crisis, and a story of identity. It is a graphic novel that focuses on why you need to be yourself and accept who you are, despite the judgment you may get from others.
Luisa is 32 years old, and she photographs food for a living. She is single and can’t stay in a relationship for more than two weeks. She has a distant relationship with her mother. On the other hand, Luisa is 15 and is lost. She is unsure of her sexuality and may have developed feelings for a girl who is mistreated due to her sexuality. They are the same person, and they ended up meeting in 2013.
The story takes the question “what would you say if you could talk to your teenage self” and runs with it. The outcome may not be what is expected. This graphic novel is interesting in that it takes some expectations and flips them on their head. You think you would be supportive of your younger self and give them words of advice and comfort about the future. In reality, you may just find yourself annoying and outdated. Your younger self may feel like a threat to the life you’ve built over time.
The artwork of this graphic novel is very smooth. It is bright and has a lot of warm tones. Flashbacks are set in black and white or grayscale colors, indicating their separation from the present. The characters are all distinct and easily recognizable. I enjoyed the art style in this one. The decisions made for the tone separations were definitely good ones.
Luisa is a very complex character, particularly since we see her as an adult and as a teenager. We also get to hear about her hopes and dreams and see what became of them. We see who she once was and who she turned out to be based on the decisions she made throughout her life up to this point. The interactions between both Luisa’s are entertaining and refreshing. They defy expectation and butt heads continuously. This aspect made it very thought-provoking. Some aspects of the story reminded me a lot of the film The Kid that Walt Disney Pictures released in 2000, starring Bruce Willis. He meets his younger self, and they have similar exchanges, but this one takes a new direction in that it addresses the way that not accepting oneself in terms of love can lead to a life that is unfulfilling.
Luisa: Now and Then is a powerful story that anyone who may be questioning their ability to accept themselves should read. It shows the possible consequences of decisions to suppress your desires and fail to maintain relationships with family and friends. Sometimes one decision can set off a chain of events you don’t expect, and this graphic novel makes you stop to think that what you do, what you fail to do, and how you treat others does have an impact not just on others, but on yourself. I would highly recommend this graphic novel. It would be a good way to get a discussion going about acceptance and the many forms that love can take.
Luisa: Now and Then