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A queer coming-of-age story, complete with secret cigarettes, gross gym teachers, and a lot of church
It’s the early 2000s. Lauren is fifteen, soft-spoken, and ashamed of her body. She’s a devout member of an evangelical church, but when her Bible-thumping parents forbid Lauren to bring evolution textbooks home, she opts to study at her schoolmate Mariah’s house. Mariah has dial-up internet, an absentee mom, and a Wiccan altar—the perfect setting for a study session and sleepover to remember. That evening, Mariah gives Lauren a makeover and the two melt into each other, in what becomes Lauren’s first queer encounter. Afterward, a potent blend of Christian guilt and internalized homophobia causes Lauren to question the experience.
Author Jessica Campbell (XTC69) uses frankness and dark humor to articulate Lauren's burgeoning crisis of faith and sexuality. She captures teenage antics and banter with astute comedic style, simultaneously skewering bullies, a culture of slut-shaming, and the devastating impact of religious zealotry. Rave is an instant classic, a coming-of-age story about the secret spaces young women create and the wider social structures that fail them.
"Rave takes a melancholy glimpse into small-town life, where the church casts a long shadow. For the teenagers of this town, dogmatic teachings offer no salvation. But turning away feels impossible when religion is a pillar of the community. Jessica Campbell's Rave is a beautifully told story about the harm of conditional love."
—Aminder Dhaliwal, CYCLOPEDIA EXOTICA
"Reading Rave reminds me of the way the days felt when you were a teenager. Terribly long, and yet incredibly short. Jessica Campbell has captured the essence of being young and lost so completely, that I know the story will stay with me for a long time to come. Read it, and you won’t forget it either."
—Tillie Walden, ON A SUNBEAM
"Canadian cartoonist Jessica Campbell delivers a gracefully laconic graphic novel about a teen girl in the early aughts wrestling with faith and sexuality."—Electric Literature, Most Anticipated LGBTQ+ Books of 2022
"This is a story to leave readers melancholy, wistful, and wondering what could have been if only the world weren’t so cruel or full of hypocrisy."—Booklist
"Unfolding at the intersection of budding sexuality and evangelical Christianity, this gripping graphic novel from Campbell depicts a quietly tragic coming-of-age."—Publishers Weekly
"Rave is a thoughtful, painful coming-of-age tale with gravitas, wrapped in a deceptively charming package."—The Comics Journal
"Campbell uses the freedom of fiction to expand beyond her personal lived experience, delivering a more generalized story about the pressures of adolescence that takes advantage of the standard set of comics tools to be more accessible."—AV Club