Student Review and Lesson Ideas: Blankets
Blankets is the coming of age story of Craig Thompson during the early 1990s Wisconsin. In the novel, Craig tells the story of how he found a guiding light amongst the uncertainty of teen life and home life. The story revolves around Craig and his friend-and-sort-of-girlfriend Raina, and how both of them need each other to get through their lives (at this point being 18 years old). Bt far from being your basic any and every hormonal 18 year old problem(s), Craig deals with the uncertainty of what is to become of him in the future and not only that, but it is coupled with a questioning of his religions beliefs. While Raina has to deal with her parents separating, having to help raise her mentally challenged adopted siblings, and way to often having to play the role of head of household and responsible adult.
When Craig and Raina meet up and spend time together, not only does having one there for the other (and vise versa) help with their situations, it gives them a chance to develop a romantic intimacy that respectively at their given time both Craig and Raina use this experience to spring board into the next phase of their lives. The love Craig gives and takes is helpful in coming to terms with his crisis in faith, that in turn gives him the fortitude to move out and grow as an individual out in the real world. The love that Raina gives and most deservingly needs and receives certainly helps her get through her family’s disintegration. In the novel, even though both characters do use each other to get the most out of the emotional and mental rut they are in; it is not done in a negative way, rather it is done more in a therapeutic symbiotic relationship.
This novel is perfect for any and all High School teens; but being that Craig is a Senior in High School, it may be better suited for Juniors and Seniors because they are all (to a given extent) going through the same motions, emotions, fears, frustrations, and uncertainties of adolescence and creating a strong individuality from any and all occurrences and experiences in their lives. These are some exercises that can accompany reading Blankets:
1) Have students point out several themes the novel presents: family values, faith, growing up, the future, etc. And have them write how one or many of the themes they find in the novel help the story progress.
2) Have students reflect on certain personal experiences that may be mirrored by the text. Were they feeling similarly to Craig, or did they react in a different way? If anything in the novel has not been experienced in any way by the students, have them write what they think they would do in the exact same situation.
3) Have students compare and contrast Blankets with another novel or the novel it may be paired with to analyze the benefits/drawbacks of both graphic novels and textual novels.
-- Javier Guerra