The Secret Life of Debbie G by Vibha Batra and Kalyani Ganapathy (HarperCollins Children’s Books) is a bitter sweet coming-of-age story set in contemporary times. Sure to find resonance with young adults, the graphic novel is truly a product of its times. Sixteen-year-old Soundarya, who obviously prefers to be called Arya, is battling her own issues.
Her mother is all set to remarry. Add to this, her ‘step’ siblings are not the ones she thinks she can get along with. Not to mention, she used to have a crush on her to-be bro. And then, there is the great North-South divide, with the groom being Punjabi, and her family rooted in the South. But, these are least of her concerns. After all, the life of a teenager is fraught with stuff! It is in a moment of despondency that Debbie G is born. Arya channelizes her clever and sometimes wicked sense of humour through her online avatar- Debbie G.
Her prowess in cartooning coupled with her wit, make Debbie G popular. Maybe too popular. And then, Arya’s online persona takes a course of its own, maybe threatening her own sanity in ‘real’ life.
Coming-of-age novels have a crucial role to play in Young Adult literature. The Secret Life of Debbie G is rooted in the contemporary world. right from the lingo and the themes, the book is authentic to the YA world of today. their concerns, the thoughts that haunt them, the lives they life and the language they use, all reflects honestly through the book. There is a great sense of humour peppered through the narrative that adds to the charm of the story.
This is a story that is honest to the core and relevant to the times. The graphic novel format is fun and accentuates the experience of reading. The Secret Life of Debbie G is the coming-of-age graphic novel that strikes a chord with tweens, teens and even the adult readership.