Teen angst is an endless source of artistic material—the emotions dramatic, the stakes mysterious—but it’s something we’ve all been through. In this Swedish author’s debut work, we meet Florence Sato, a young lady at one of those mysterious ages when you never fit in and can’t crack the inner clique at the skating rink. Mom and Dad stretched the budget and got her a nice new pair of skates. Florence works to master the “Double Lutz” and some of those other improbably named skating maneuvers, but the social pressure of the clique drives her mad. She ditches her skates in a trash can and sets out to leave. This fit releases a “Junkwraith,” a mysterious spirit set out to destroy Florence. She wavers, and a quick pass by the Dumpster shows her skates are solid gone, so she preps to run away. She packs breath mints, aspirin, and her faithful digital assistant Frank (imagine Frank as Siri, but slightly less creepy). With the Junkwraith breathing down her back and destroying her memories, she’s off to adventure and redemption. As the Junkwraith slowly eats away at her memories, we sympathize: will she find her path before she loses her identity completely?
The story does hold your attention, although occasionally it offers a few slow spots. Frank can be annoying, but then what digital assistant isn’t? Florence paints an example of a teen drowning in angst, and her growth feels real, complete with setbacks, surprising help, and a transition from lost teen to confident young woman. The artwork is quirky and weird, with multiple word-free panels that effectively convey the sense of watching a janky 8 mm film. This is a solid, enjoyable book with appeal to young and old.