The Greatest Thing | Review
The Greatest Things
By Sarah Winifred Searle
First Second, February 2022
Grades 8 and up
When Winifred’s two best friends transfer to another school her Sophomore year in high school, she is surprised to immediately make new friends. Oscar and April are both a bit offbeat, but the trio immediately falls into a comfortable friendship. They have sleepovers (where Oscar has to sneak in), go shopping, and even publish a zine together.
Each of the teens is grappling with issues, their sexuality, family life, learning difficulties. But Winifred is spiraling out of control as she struggles with depression, insomnia, anxiety, and self-harm. When a well-meaning April tells the school’s psychologist about the scars on Winifred’s arms, it sets her on a path of healing and empowerment.
This is a lovely graphic novel that takes an honest look at how easy it easy for teenagers to get lost in despair. The friendship between Oscar, April, and Winifred demonstrates how teens can be each other’s lifesavers, by buoying them with their friendship and turning to a trusted adult when necessary.
The overall melancholy tone of the story makes this a slow read but gives readers all the more time to study the lovely artwork. The backgrounds colored in soft pastels contrast the deep and rich hues of the people in the story. Panels tend to be character-centric, filling up each moment with faces and bodies of Winifred, her family, and friends. There were many close-up moments.
This sensitive read is a must-have on library shelves. The important message—to seek help during these difficult times we are living in—will speak to teen readers.
About Esther Keller
Esther Keller is the librarian at JHS 278, Marine Park in Brooklyn, NY. There she started the library's first graphic novel collection and strongly advocated for using comics in the classroom. She also curates the Graphic Novel collection for the NYC DOE Citywide Digital Library. She started her career at the Brooklyn Public Library and later jumped ship to the school system so she could have summer vacation and a job that would align with a growing family's schedule. On the side, she is a mother of 4 and regularly reviews for SLJ and School Library Connection (formerly LMC). In her past life, she served on the Great Graphic Novels for Teens Committee where she solidified her love and dedication to comics.
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