KOKO BE GOOD by Jen Wang (First Second 2011) is the second GN I have read lately that has the more adult end of YA in mind. Koko, Jon, and Faron are three YAs who do not fit in. Faron's father belittles his interest in music and theater so he hides his true passion and takes on the belittling of his father. Jon has abandoned his music in favor of finding something more "adult" to learn and teach when he joins his older girlfriend in Peru. And Koko? Koko has the best intentions but they go awry easily. She wants to give back, to be charitable, to be responsible. All three come to understand that each has a role to play, each must find her or his own passion. Only when that happens will they find their true selves. <547>
The soft pastels and sepia tones convey the uncertainty faced by Jon and Faron and Koko nicely. The novel is episodic in nature and moves back and forth in time effortlessly. Those who say the GN format cannot be literary need to see this book and discover how storytelling can be enriched by the format.