I had planned to put it a bit further down in my pile, but the copy of Blankets by Craig Thompson (2003) that the always-amazing St. Murse lent me was calling my name, and I couldn't resist. To be honest, I was also influenced by the fact that this book is as giant as Good-bye, Chunky Rice is slender, and it was about to topple over my very precarious "to-read" pile.
Blankets is a coming-of-age memoir about Thompson growing up in rural Wisconsin with his brother and parents, being teased at school for being skinny and poor, navigating the Evangelical Christianity of his family, and falling in love for the first time at a winter bible camp. The story moves back and forth between childhood and adolescence, focusing much of its time on a pivotal two-week visit to Michigan to stay with the family of Raina, the girl he met in bible camp.
The narrative in Blankets is much more concrete than Good-bye, Chunky Rice, but the feelings of necessary separation, of growth, and of fond sadness are the same. So are Thompson's knack for humorous details, vulnerable revelations, and an emotional (but not manipulative) connection with his readers.
Thompson also draws a Midwestern meathead bully better than anyone else on earth.