RATING: 2.5 / 5 stars
Midnight picnics at the Eiffel Tower; wine tastings paired with blowgun lessons; and romance in cafés, cemeteries, and at the Brandenberg Gate–these are just some of New York Times best-selling cartoonist Lucy Knisley’s experiences on her 2011 European book tour. An Age of License is both a graphic travelogue and a journal of her trip abroad. Fans of Knisley’s food-focused autobiography (French Milk, Relish) savor her mouth-watering drawings and descriptions of culinary delights, seasons with cute cat cameos. But An Age of License is not all kittens and raclette crepes: Knisley’s account of her adventures is colored by anxieties about her life and career, depicted with fearlessness, relatability, and honesty, making An Age of License an Eat, Pray, Love for the Girls generation.
I picked this book up from the library completely impulsively. I wanted to read anther graphic novel or sequential art style novel, but all of the ones I had been reading lately were dark, heavy, or gory. “An Age of License” seemed like the exact right fit for me. I have a bad case of wanderlust, the main character is only a couple of years younger than me and is therefore having a similar identity crisis, and it’s an easy book to read!
I was unfortunately let down because of the content. To be more specific there just wasn’t enough of it. Lucy seems to skim through the other people in her life, her relationship with them, the new individuals she’s meeting, what she actually does when she’s in Europe, and her feelings about everything. Like I said it just skims the surface of her feelings – she says repeatedly that she doesn’t know if she wants to pursue her passion and be broke, or go for the money and be financially settled down. but she just questions that one thing over and over. But I mean, maybe that’s because that’s what was in the forefront of her mind at that time, so that’s what’s reflected in her book.
I liked the idea of her drawing her experiences. Her drawing style is wonderful and (when she does it right) it really adds personality and depth to the tale of her travels. For example she takes the time to draw a picture of her sort of boyfriend Henrik while he’s asleep in the early morning. Or there’s one of what the basement/cellar at a winery she visits in France looks like. Those specific details were very cool and really made it a unique way to tell readers what those places & experiences were like. You could really picture her there because, well, there was a picture!
But at other times I personally felt she chose the wrong things to draw. Many pages were spent drawing the food she was having… cheeses, vegetables, pastries, etc. I don’t really care what the food looks like! I wanted to know about her and the places & people! Again, wanted to know more about her mom, or her friends she was staying with! I will say I got to know Henrik pretty well though.
She’s an amazing artist though! Her details on the landscapes and buildings and things on the table in front of her, and in the rooms she’s in, etc. are incredible! Very full and impressive.
Also I like Lucy herself – she’s very relatable and independent and cute and fun and intelligent. That’s why I want to know her more!
Basically I just felt like I wanted more out of it. I didn’t mind the style or the premise or anything, it just felt a bit thin.