Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me was published in 2019 by First Second Books. The graphic novel was written by Mariko Tamaki (the writer of This One Summer, a frequently challenged and banned book) and illustrated by Rosemary Valero-O’Connell. The book, which is multi-award winning and has received widespread critical acclaim, focuses on the story of Freddy Riley and her relationship with her on-again, off-again girlfriend, Laura Dean. As the relationship plays out, we see its effects on Freddy and her relationship with her friends.
Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me has appeared in several challenges across the country. In 2021, Laura Dean was one of 15 books removed from Leander Independent School District in Texas after a small group complained about its inclusion on a list for student book clubs. This graphic novel that examines toxic relationships and has its “finger on the pulse of teenage concerns” is likely targeted as “inappropriate literature” for its portrayal of LGBTQ+ relationships.
Laura Dean became a target for challenges and bans after being featured on Texas Representative Matt Krause’s list of books to be removed. This list has been used nationwide to make blanket challenges on books in public schools and libraries.
We’ve put together these resources for librarians and educators who may need assistance justifying or defending the addition of Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me to their collections. You can also reach out to Comic Book Legal Defense Fund for support at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Publisher First Second Books offers this summary of Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me:
Author Mariko Tamaki and illustrator Rosemary Valero-O’Connell bring to life a sweet and spirited tale of young love in Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me, a graphic novel that asks us to consider what happens when we ditch the toxic relationships we crave to embrace the healthy ones we need.
Laura Dean, the most popular girl in high school, was Frederica Riley’s dream girl: charming, confident, and SO cute. There’s just one problem: Laura Dean is maybe not the greatest girlfriend.
Reeling from her latest break up, Freddy’s best friend, Doodle, introduces her to the Seek-Her, a mysterious medium, who leaves Freddy some cryptic parting words: break up with her. But Laura Dean keeps coming back, and as their relationship spirals further out of her control, Freddy has to wonder if it’s really Laura Dean that’s the problem. Maybe it’s Freddy, who is rapidly losing her friends, including Doodle, who needs her now more than ever.
Fortunately for Freddy, there are new friends, and the insight of advice columnists like Anna Vice to help her through being a teenager in love.
Reviews for Laura Dean Keeps Breaking up With Me
Tamaki (Supergirl, 2018, etc.) explores the nuances of both romantic and platonic relationships with raw tenderness and honesty. Valero-O’Connell’s (Lumberjanes: Bonus Tracks, 2018, etc.) art is realistic and expressive, bringing the characters to life through dynamic grayscale illustrations featuring highlights of millennial pink.
A triumphant queer coming-of-age story that will make your heart ache and soar.
This heartfelt graphic memoir relates, with sometimes painful honesty, the experience of growing up Bold, clean lines and pink highlights characterize rich art by Valero-O’Connell (the Lumberjanes/Gotham Academy series) as panels breathily dense with the personal details of the characters’ lives morph to suit each meaningful scene. A largely queer and physically and ethnically diverse cast inhabits this vision of teenage Berkeley, and the high school–specific mixture of self-possession and cluelessness with which Tamaki (This One Summer) imbues them lends depth and individuation. This exploration of toxic relationships and social dynamics at the cusp of adulthood is, like its cast, sharp and dazzling. Final art not seen by PW.
Touching gently but powerfully on topics of bullying, homophobia, and toxic relationships, this superb graphic novel has its finger on the pulse of teenage concerns.
Tamaki and Valero-O’Connell do bring to life an artful narrative of relationships—old, new, harmful, and healing—and what happens when you learn to navigate them.
. . . there’s something endearingly vulnerable about her beautifully drawn experiences that will resonate with teenagers.
Awards and Recognition
- 2020 Eisner Awards; Best Publication for Teens, Best Writer, Best Penciller/Inker
- 2019 Ignatz Awards; Outstanding Story, Outstanding Graphic Novel, Outstanding Artist
- 2019 Harvey Award; Best Children’s or Young Adult Book
- Forbes list for The Best Graphic Novels of 2019
- The Washington Post list for The best graphic novels, memoirs and story collections of 2019
- Booklist 2019 Editors’ Choice
- Michael L. Printz Award For Excellence in Young Adult Literature
What should I do if Laura Dean is challenged?
Most challenges to comics in libraries come from well-meaning individuals, frequently parents, who find something they believe is objectionable in their local public or school library. These challenges are often difficult and stressful for the library staff who must manage them, but there are resources to help them in the process. Below we’ve identified a number of tips and links to assist libraries to increase the likelihood of keeping challenged comics on the shelves.
1. Make Strong Policies.
Strong selection and challenge review policies are key for protecting access to library materials, including comics. The American Library Association has developed a number of excellent tools to assist school and public libraries in the essential preparation to perform before books are challenged here.
2. Face the Challenge.
What do you do when a comic is challenged? Much of the material in this post can be used to help defend Gender Queer: A Memoir against a challenge. The American Library Association has developed these helpful tools to cope with challenges:
- How to Respond to Challenges and Concerns about Library Resources
- Working with Community Leaders
- Selection & Reconsideration Policy Toolkit for Public, School, and Academic Libraries
CBLDF can also help by providing assistance with locating review resources, writing letters of support, and facilitating access to experts and resources. Call 800-99-CBLDF or email email@example.com at the first sign of a First Amendment emergency!
3. Report the Challenge.
Another essential step in protecting access to comics is to report challenges when they occur. By reporting challenges, you help the free expression community gather necessary information about what materials are at risk so better tools can be created to assist. To report a challenge to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, call us at 800-99-CBLDF or email here. You can also report the challenge to the ALA here.
CBLDF and its partners have been battling ongoing and organized attempts to censor comics and other books in schools and libraries. You can join the struggle by making a donation or reporting censorship today!