A bingo hall brought Mari McCray and Hazel Johnson together as young women in 1963. Prejudice and family ultimatums pushed the two apart, but forty years later, a bingo hall brings them back together. In the meantime, however, both Hazel and Mari have married and had families. Is it too late for a second chance?
Hazel is the main character of this book, and she is, frankly, adorable. A shy, well-behaved nerd, she is in awe of Mari, who relocates to her small town as a teenager and is seated next to Hazel in class. Mari is a bit less well-developed, but we get the sense of her as a professional woman with California cool. Hazel’s husband James is a scene-stealer, and the author packs a lot of life and history into the limited pages spent on Hazel’s marriage. Be warned – the inevitability of Hazel and Mari’s aging does give this book a tearjerker finish.
I love the art in this book. How delightful to see vital, attractive, and energetic examples of women who hit a trifecta of underrepresentation in graphic novels – black, plus-size, and older. (Hazel and Mari also have different skin tones, and it’s nice to see both that diversity, and that Image Comics invested in high quality color printing). The artists do a wonderful job illustrating Hazel and Mari at their different ages, capturing the fashions and hairstyles of each time period. The layouts flow, the facial expressions are lively, and there is a good balance between dialogue and art.
My biggest criticism of the book is that the edition which I read – regular Bingo Love – is not complete. There are suggestions to follow up other plot threads in other books. Image Comics released Bingo Love Jackpot Edition after the first edition, and at 160 pages, it’s about twice as long as what I read. If you are interested in this story, there is basically no reason to buy the edition that I have. Just spend the extra few bucks on the Jackpot Edition. This probably will address my other complaint that the story moves too fast, and that Mari’s family is neglected in favor of developing Hazel’s. You also won’t find this story satisfying if you’re looking for an LGBTQ+ story where the main conflict isn’t coming out, although the complexity of handling coming out as married parents does add to the story.
It’s weird to give a B grade to a book and then not recommend that people buy it, but the only reason I’m saying that is because you should buy the Jackpot Edition instead. It’s a sweet addition to your graphic novel and romance collections that celebrates love for everyone, at any age.
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|Review Date:||February 24, 2020|
|Book Type:||Graphic Novel|
|Review Tags:||AoC | f/f romance | friends to lovers | LGBTQ+ romance | older couple | Plus size heroine | PoC | Queer romance | second chance romance | tearjerker|