Lost At Sea: Concerning the Theft of One's Soul By Cats
Raleigh is an 18-year old Canadian girl returning from a trip to California, who, having missed her train gets a random accidental phone call from some kids she barely knew back in high school who coincidentally happen to also be heading back to Vancouver. She decides to go with them, and this graphic novel (novella, really) by Bryan Lee O'Malley (creator of the acclaimed "Scott Pilgrim" series) is about their journey home.
Raleigh is a troubled kid. Still haunted by when her parents split up and her best friend moved away, she is also dealing with unfortunate meetings with her dad and her American boyfriend back in California. She maintains that she has no soul, that it was lost somewhere along the way around the time her parents split up, possibly stolen by a cat or sold by her mother to the devil in order to be successful. She keeps seeing cats everywhere for some reason she cannot fathom. Finally, she is painfully shy and more than a little unsure of herself, worrying that she doesn't fit in with her three companions on this trip back to Canada. All of this creates a character that is both sympathetic and loveable, as haven't we all worried we weren't good enough, or that we didn't fit in with those around us.
"Lost At Sea" is much more down-to-Earth than the wild and zany "Scott Pilgrim," although it does possess O'Malley strange wit and sense of humor (the comic opens with the members of the roadtrip deciding to set down rules for the trip, which include such things as "don't drive off cliffs" and "don't drive into the Grand Canyon"). O'Malley has a knack for creating interesting characters, and I found myself enamored with all three of Raleigh's three companions (Dave, Ian, and Stephanie), who all seem like totally believable people that you could actually run into, if perhaps a bit more interesting than your typical person. The tone is pitch-perfect, slightly sad but never wallowing in its misery, which combined with the aforementioned strange O'Malley wit makes it incredibly readable--I must have read the whole thing in 45 minutes or less. It's like a great indie film, full of interesting characters and off-the-wall situations.
All in all, my highest recommendations, if you're looking for something both funny and sad. Enjoy!