By Jimmy Gownley
Published by Atheneum Books for young Readers
Copyright © 2011
An Amelia Rules Book
Middle School – The purgatory between grades school and high school, the land of pre-teens and newly christened young adults. It is hard enough to navigate this time in your life when everything is great, but it can be harrowing when life throws you curveballs. It makes one wonder what is “The Meaning of Life…
Amelia and her friends know this first hand. Amelia’s parents are divorced. She and her mom recently moved to suburban Pennsylvania. Her aunt Tanner, a former Rock Star, has gone off on tour and hasn’t returned Amelia’s e-mails in quite a while. Joan, Amelia’s new friend, misses her dad who is in the army and is currently deployed. His helicopter crashes and he is unaccounted for. And, the members of G.A.S.P. seem to be growing apart. Throw in authoritarian principals, catty cheerleaders, and the ever changing relationship between boys and girls and life can be tough.
Jimmy Gownley has written and illustrated an entertaining and realistic graphic novel. The artistic style in his work is of the comic strip fashion made famous by Shulz, Johnston, Watterson, and many others. The lifestyles and problems that these kids face though are quite modern. Much of this graphic novel is humorous, but Gownley really portrays the transition, the uncertainty, and the pain of growing up and learning that the world isn’t perfect.
You rarely hear it said that Old-fashioned thinking is a breath of fresh air, but in this case it is. “The Meaning of Life” shows us that some things will always be important like empathy, friendship, humility, love, and loyalty. These are qualities that are often drowned out in modern entertainment. I think I am going to have to go back and find book one in the “Amelia Rules” series so that I can appreciate his story telling more fully. While this graphic novel is suitable for children 8 and up, it will be best understood by kids who are closer to 11 and up. However, if you are 40 and still read comic strips I certainly believe you will enjoy “Amelia Rules” too.