The Wendy Project, written by Melissa Jane Osborne & illustrated by Veronica Fish, follows 16-year-old Wendy Davies in the horrible aftermath of a car crash during which she was driving. One of her brothers drowned in the crash, but Wendy refuses to believe it. Instead, she tells everyone that she saw Michael flying away with another boy. When school starts, she starts to view everything around her as belonging to Neverland (e.g. the cute boy she has a crush on becomes Peter Pan), and documents it all in a sketchbook given to her by her therapist, many pages of which are shown in the novel in addition to the story. The question that remains throughout is whether the sketchbook is a place to process her emotions or whether it can take her to another world.
This graphic novel was a loose retelling of Peter Pan, with many elements from the original story making appearances. The art was beautiful and the story was heart-wrenching. Wendy’s emotions are vivid throughout the book, as are the colors and occasional black and white illustrations. You can feel her pain reflected throughout, and also see a young girl truly trying to deal with trauma and what she may have seen. At times, I teared up, and really took myself in and out of the story trying to process everything. It was a really in-depth reading experience, very similar to reading a prose novel. I admit I occasionally have trouble getting emotionally invested in the graphic novel format, but that was not a problem here.
I am also a sucker for retellings or books influenced by fairy tales and children’s books. This did not disappoint in that area. From Wendy’s family structure and names to the ways she imposes Neverland on her world, it’s all very poignantly connected. I could also see this, thanks in large part to the illustrations, as an animated short or film. The way the art focuses in on reality and draws back to show how Wendy’s seeing it is simply phenomenal. I don’t know how else to describe it.
Overall, this was a stupendous graphic novel. If you have a hard time getting invested in graphic novels, you should try this one. It’s beautifully illustrated, with an intense and interesting story, with interplay between reality and the world of Neverland. It will make you cry and empathize and understand the characters, particularly Wendy. I highly recommend it & it’s out today from Super Genius Publishing!
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Note: I received this graphic novel as an eARC from Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.
What graphic novels or Peter Pan retellings do you recommend?