My Boyfriend Is a Bear

Twenty-eight-year-old Nora is dating someone who's messy and not a great communicator. Think you've been there? You haven't. The boyfriend with whom Nora is sharing her one-bedroom Los Angeles apartment is a 500-pound American black bear that she met on a camping trip. He's tolerant of her flaws ("I sing too loudly in the car"), lets her choose what TV shows they watch (bonus: he hasn't seen any of them) and solves her kitchen's ant problem. He meets her romantic needs ("Mating season was fun"). Sure, some of Nora's loved ones disapprove of the relationship ("Does he even work? Does he have any skills?"), and the bear has a severely limited vocabulary (mainly "GRAH"), plus he breaks stuff. But crucially, "He has never broken my heart."

So, what's the problem? Well, winter is coming, and bears hibernate. Will the relationship survive the separation? Will Nora?

My Boyfriend Is a Bear is a graphic novel for fans of humorous literary fiction: not only is Nora's narration winning, but her plight also packs the emotional punch of a good short story because, as absurd as the book's premise is, Pamela Ribon plays it straight, making our heroine's angst eminently understandable. Cat Farris matches Ribon's clear-eyed storytelling with tidy panels that call to mind Raina Telgemeier's work, albeit in a rowdier palette. There's a bit of social commentary afoot--have frustrated single women really been reduced to dating bears?--but if the book has a target, it's not men but a truly vexing species: hipsters. --Nell Beram, author and freelance writer

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