The Unbearable Raccoonness of Being

Louis Undercover by Fanny Britt and Isabelle Arsenault. Translated by Christelle Morelli and Susan Ouriou. Groundwood Books / House of Anansi Press, 2017. 9781554988594. 157pp.

This book is as as beautiful as 2013’s Jane, The Fox, and Me by the same author-illustrator team. It’s so beautiful it will break your heart, which is exactly why it left me crying at the end.

This graphic novel is narrated by Louis, the older of two brothers (the younger is known as Truffle because he looks like one) in a family that is breaking apart in slow motion. Louis is that kind of kid who watches his parents and knows more than either of them will acknowledge, as he shows by explaining the way his father cries (like a dog barks, like a cat meows) because he’s thinking of when their family was still together. After visiting him in the country where they used to live, the boys rejoin their mom in Montreal, in a smaller place overlooking a busy road where Louis watches cars with his friend and thinks about talking to Billie, the brave, beautiful girl at school. (He fell for her at first sight (you will, too), but won’t talk to her because love ends badly.)

The boys’ dad clearly, sadly wants to get back with their mother, but she’s done with him. But then a near tragedy brings them back together in a way that every kid with divorced parents dreams about. But of course that probably won’t work out.

And did I mention Louis nurses an injured raccoon back to health? It’s probably symbolic, but it’s just so incredibly cute that it’s enjoyable for its raccoonness.

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