A First Love, Complete with (Lots) of Falling Snow
This graphic novel first breaks your heart with the illustrated story of Craig's lonely, isolated childhood in rural Wisconsin—complete with frigid winters, no money, a sexually abusive male babysitter and daily smackdowns from the bullies (and teachers) at school. Craig's one source of solace is his little brother, with whom he shares a room. That is, until he meets Raina at a Christian overnight camp, who encourages him to slide across an icy pond (literally) and, eventually, to come visit her in the "big city" of Marquette, Minnesota. There, he discovers something much more powerful than the wonders of urban life: "how the entire weight and taste of the air...shifted" when he and Raina are near each other. Though both teenagers are struggling with issues far beyond their years (siblings with Down syndrome, divorce), their feelings for each other create a kind of magical bubble that allows them to find out who they are as people—even if, one day, inevitably, that bubble must pop.