Aya de Yopougon by Marguerite Abouet, illustrated by Clément Oubrerie ★★★★½
Source: Municipal library
Series: Aya (1 of 6)
Edition: Gallimard Jeunesse (2005), French edition, Hardcover, 112 pages
Original publication date: 2005
Glad I finally picked up this first book in a series highly recommended by a member of LT a few years ago. Set in 1978, it tells the story of Aya, the most beautiful girl in Yopougon—a popular section of Abidjan, the capital of Ivory Coast—and of her friends and their families. Though she gets plenty of unwanted attention for her looks (make that harassment), Aya is serious about her studies and contrary to her father’s wishes, wants to become a doctor and have her own career and help people instead of trying to find a rich husband, unlike her girlfriends who only think about going dancing in open air nightclubs and fooling around with men to both tragic and very funny effect. I really felt I was transported to another time and to an Africa beyond all the warring and the famines we see in the news and to what everyday living must be like for young city people like Aya. But what makes this graphic novel shine are the drawings; full of energy and colour and hilariously expressive. No sooner had I finished this first book that I hurried to reserve the second, third and fourth in the series from my local library. Highly recommended (and also available in English translation).