Title: Bingo Love
Author: Tee Franklin
Illustrator: Jenn St-Onge
Genre: LGBT Graphic Novel
Number of Pages: 92
I read Bingo Love in one sitting, but not because it was a particularly compelling read. I really like the premise of two elderly black women who fell in love but were torn apart by prejudice getting a second chance to be with each other. I think it has a lot of potential, and if they had developed the two heroines’ character more and written a story that felt less naïve and childish this could have been a really great graphic novel, even ground-breaking.
One thing I did like about this book was the illustrations, they were cartoony but in a good way and they brought a lot of life to the characters. What I had problems with was the dialogue and plot. So, Hazel and Mari meet as teenagers at a bingo game and pretty soon they’re head over heels in love with each other. Unfortunately, a poorly timed kiss in front of Mari’s house guarantees their separation. As time goes by, they both marry men and try to move on with their lives. Then years later they run into each other again, and they decide not to let anything get in the way of their one last chance to be happy together.
The dialogue made me cringe a little at times, it was so didactic. There was no subtlety to anything any of the characters said, it was pretty strictly ‘how can me loving another girl be so wrong when it feels so good and natural?’ type stuff. It almost felt as if the author was trying to drive home the lesson through her writing that HOMOPHOBIA IS BAD. Also, the whole thing with Hazel sort-of coming out to her husband and the inevitable screaming and fighting that commences left me absolutely baffled.
Hazel actually tells her husband off like a petulant child for having an issue with finding out she’s a lesbian and was kissing another woman behind his back (remember, this couple has been married 30+ years) and sends him away to stop throwing a fit and put his big boy pants on. I think Hazel’s behavior is supposed to show her to be a strong female character, but instead it makes her seem entitled and selfish. I’m all for minority representation and having gay main characters who are not all young white people, but I thought this was a totally missed opportunity.
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