Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2023) Featured Review of The Greatest Thing by Sarah Winifred Searle

The Greatest Thing by Sarah Winifred Searle
First Second
Publication Date: February 8, 2022
ISBN-13: 9781250297235

Winifred begins a lonely tenth grade year without her two best friends, who have moved away. In photography class, she meets Oscar and April, and the three form a fast friendship over art, zines and fashion. Though she still talks to her old friends, has a strong relationship with her mom, and finds new joy with Oscar and April, Winifred struggles with depression, self-harm and disordered eating, which eventually escalate. Will Win sabotage herself and her support system, or will she find the strength to tell the truth and ask for help?

This is a semi-autobiographical work about Searle’s own high school years in Southern Maine. Her artistic style is cute and accessible, but also capable of emotional depth and evocative setting. Win, Oscar and April co-create a zine together, chapters of which are embedded within this book. This meta device adds an extra means for readers to access the characters’ feelings through their collaborative storytelling. In addition to neurodiverse representation, there is racial diversity depicted among the main characters. There is solid LGBTQ representation, but these identities are not the focus of the story.   

The Greatest Thing will appeal to readers who enjoy realistic graphic fiction about friendship and mental health, and is a must-read for teens who enjoy friendship stories with outsider protagonists like The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Readers who enjoy more somber, quiet graphics by Tillie Walden or Niki Smith will also enjoy The Greatest Thing, as will fans of the Hearstopper series by Alice Oseman.

—Kelley Blue

Other Nominated Titles:

  • Over My Dead Body by Sweeney Boo (August 30, 2022)
  • Manga Classics: Hamlet (Modern English Edition) by William Shakespeare, Crystal S. Chan and Julien Choy (February 8, 2022)
  • Talli, Daughter of the Moon, vol. 1 by Sourya (October 18, 2022)
  • My Love Mix-Up, vol. 5 by Wataru Hinekure and Aruko (October 4, 2022)
  • Issunboshi: A Graphic Novel by Ryan Lang (October 24, 2022)
  • The Many Deaths of Laila Starr by Ram V. and Andrade Filipe (February 1, 2022)

The Selected Lists teams read throughout the year in search of the best titles published in their respective categories. Once a book is suggested (either internally or through the title suggestion form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination. 

Each week, the teams feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation are listed as well. At year’s end, the team will curate a final list from all nominated titles and select a Top Ten.

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Great Graphic Novels for Teens

Great Graphic Novels for Teens Blogging Team @ YALSA's The Hub.