By Lee Lai. Published by Fantagraphics.
Hardcover, 236 pages, 2-colour, 2021.
An exhilarating and tender debut graphic novel that is an ode to the love and connection shared among three women and the child they all adore.
Bron and Ray are a queer couple who enjoy their role as the fun weirdo aunties to Ray's niece, six-year-old Nessie. Their playdates are little oases of wildness, joy, and ease in all three of their lives, which ping-pong between familial tensions and deep-seated personal stumbling blocks. As their emotional intimacy erodes, Ray and Bron isolate from each other and attempt to repair their broken family ties — Ray with her overworked, resentful single-mother sister and Bron with her religious teenage sister who doesn't fully grasp the complexities of gender identity. Taking a leap of faith, each opens up and learns they have more in common with their siblings than they ever knew.
At turns joyful and heartbreaking, Stone Fruit reveals through intimately naturalistic dialog and blue-hued watercolor how painful it can be to truly become vulnerable to your loved ones — and how fulfilling it is to be finally understood for who you are. Lee Lai is one of the most exciting new voices to break into the comics medium and she has created one of the truly sophisticated graphic novel debuts in recent memory.
"Lee Lai's graphic novel debut is an elegantly illustrated and introspective marvel, a deeply moving story about the push and pull between family and selfhood. ... [A] book that will change the literary landscape in 2021." — O The Oprah Magazine
"This graphic novel, Lee Lai's first, is bittersweet and filled with authentic dialogue and realistic situations, including a lack of tidy resolutions. You can't help but root for the characters." — The New York Times
"Lai presents a tender and emotionally raw examination of three women struggling to form and maintain their identities within and outside of their immediate family, illustrated in a loosely expressive style that conveys both bombastic catharsis and silent anguish with aplomb." — Library Journal (starred review)
"Athena-like, Lai bursts onto the graphic scene fully formed and utterly realized with this jaw-dropping debut. Raw, intricate, and impassioned, Lai's resonating accomplishment proves astonishing." — Booklist (starred review)
"Honest and emotional. ... It's not often that a graphic novel debut heralds the emergence of a storytelling talent the way Lee Lai's Stone Fruit does." — Publishers Weekly (starred review)