Book Review

The Girl from the Sea by Molly Ostertag

Genre | Graphic Novel
Page #s | 256
Publishing Date | June 2021

From the author of The Witch Boy trilogy comes a graphic novel about family, romance, and first love.

Fifteen-year-old Morgan has a secret: She can’t wait to escape the perfect little island where she lives. She’s desperate to finish high school and escape her sad divorced mom, her volatile little brother, and worst of all, her great group of friends…who don’t understand Morgan at all. Because really, Morgan’s biggest secret is that she has a lot of secrets, including the one about wanting to kiss another girl.

Then one night, Morgan is saved from drowning by a mysterious girl named Keltie. The two become friends and suddenly life on the island doesn’t seem so stifling anymore.

But Keltie has some secrets of her own. And as the girls start to fall in love, everything they’re each trying to hide will find its way to the surface…whether Morgan is ready or not.

Goodreads

I’ve been a fan of Noelle Stevenson for over a decade, but The Girl from the Sea is the first time I’ve experienced her wife, Molly Ostertag’s, work. When the story began with an ultra-romantic fairy tale kiss of true love (albeit between a teen girl and a female selkie-turned-human), I was tempted to write it off as cheesy. But the story that developed became very meaningful, addressing plans and fears and a love that changes you rather than lasts forever.

Morgan is a closeted teenager who just wants to get out of her small town so that she can start living her life. When she kisses a mythological kelpie into human form, she is suddenly confronted with the opportunity to change her plan and be fully herself now. Cue coming out scenes with her family and friends (her mom’s “coming out of the closet” joke made me literally laugh out loud in both delight and tearful joy). Her friends take a bit more convincing, but that’s less about Keltie being female than about her awkwardness as a new human who loves gaudy dolphin-printed t-shirts.

Just as they are set to enjoy a young gay relationship, Keltie’s ecological goal to save the seals results in a chain of events that once again necessitates a change of plans. It is bittersweet, but absolutely the ending that I wanted. I love a good romance that shows how important it is to be with someone even if it doesn’t last forever.

The story is excellent, and the drawings that make up the graphic novel are similarly wonderful. I especially liked the way Ostertag represented text conversations. She’s a great creator, and I’ll have to check out more of her stuff!

Who Would I Recommend This Book To?

Anyone who likes a sweet-to-bittersweet romance about growing up and accepting who you are.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Check out our Queer Lil Library for a full book list and links to reviews!

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