Page by Paige--Laura Lee Gulledge
May 2011 by Henry N. Abrams
Paige Turner has just moved to New York with her family, and she's having some trouble adjusting to the big city. In the pages of her sketchbook, she tries to make sense of her new life, including trying out her secret identity: artist. As she makes friends and starts to explore the city, she slowly brings her secret identity out into the open, a process that is equal parts terrifying and rewarding.
Laura Lee Gulledge crafts stories and panels with images that are thought-provoking, funny, and emotionally resonant. Teens struggling to find their place can see themselves in Paige's honest, heartfelt story.
Page by Paige is an excellent coming of age story, applicable to all self-conscious teens, not just aspiring artists and writers. While is fairly straightforward plot-wise (introverted girl learns confidence) it is emotionally and visually complex. The illustrations are fantastic. They are deep and full of meaning, yet accessible to a casual glance. Everything is in black and white, but it doesn't feel like we're missing anything because of the lack of color. The illustrations perfectly capture Paige's insecurities, her aloneness, and her growing confidence. I especially enjoy the duality between her cartoony outer self and the soft shading of her inner self.
I appreciate how much the book centered on friendship. So many of these YA novels are fixated on romance as if it is the one sole goal of adolescence when there are so many other important things going on. Yes there is a bit of romance in the book, but more important is her friendship with Jules, Longo, and Gabe.
Page by Paige is honest without being annoyingly angsty, which is another trap YA contemporary can fall into. The book is genuine and I saw a lot of myself in Paige. This is a book that will resonate with a lot of readers.