I know I’ve said this before, but I’ve had a recent obsession with graphic novels. I love how easily they transport me into another world and tell such heartbreaking, emotional stories in a somewhat comedic way.
When I was browsing the graphic novel section of my local library, I found a book called Bottomless Belly Button, which had the tagline, “A Comic Book – NOT FOR CHILDREN”…then it showed a bunch of children with X’s on their faces:
A quick flip-through and I was sold. I checked it out and headed home.
I started reading that night and in about an hour or so, was a good third of the way done. I just couldn’t stop reading it! It wasn’t scary or mysterious or engaging in a way that something like The Walking Dead might be, but it was so honest and truthful and sad. It was relatable in a very personal way…and I wouldn’t be surprised if this book touched some folks in a way no other story could…
Maybe best defined as a comedy-drama, Bottomless Belly Button follows the dysfunctional adventures of the Loony family as they embark on a life-changing decision.
Maggie and David Loony decide to gather their family together to announce that, after 40 years of marriage, they are planning to get divorced. When their three children arrive at the family beach house with their families all in toe, Maggie and David break the news to very mixed results. Some handle it better than others, and the reunion at the beach house is meant to celebrate the last time the whole family will be together as one. When the children ask why, the response is eerily simple, “we’re not in love anymore.”
The oldest child, Dennis, struggles with his parent’s decision, which is highlighted even further with rising struggles in his own marriage. Believing that his parents are not being truthful about their decision to separate, he spends a good portion of the novel on a quest to discover the truth…searching through old parts of the house, old journals and photos, and secret passageways to try to uncover some information as to why his parents are making this decision.
Claire, Dennis’s younger sister, is a single mother (also recently divorced) with a 16-year-old daughter in the awkward stage of her life. Claire is apathetic to the divorce, as she understands that marriage is difficult. Her handling of the news is much different than Dennis’s…and seems to react much like her young daughter would upon hearing the same news.
Finally, the youngest child, Peter, suffers from insane insecurities and establishes an unorthodox romance with a mysterious day care counselor at the beach.
In a six-day period filled with heartbreaking realizations, honest reactions, and sweet and tender moments between family members, these characters blindly stumble around each other, each reacting to life in their own ways and handling the news brought upon them in whatever way they know how.
From a visual standpoint, the illustrations in Bottomless Belly Button are so simple, yet capture life so perfectly. Small gestures we all recognize, feelings we all know but have never put into words…this book is extremely personal and open and is not only the story of a separation, but the story of several lives and how they all interconnect.
No matter what your marital status, Bottomless Belly Button will hit you…it will hit you hard. Its brutally honest portrayal of love and happiness and just life in general will surely stick with you long after the book is over.
Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.