Are You Listening? By Tillie Walden: Review


(Content/Trigger Warnings for book: Mentions of Sexual Assault, Language)

Tillie Walden is the master of creating touching and heartfelt stories, and are you listening? is certainly her best. This graphic novel demonstrates a perfect blend of peace and chaos in a profound tale of trauma, acceptance, and friendship.

Bea is a runaway wandering Texas in an attempt to escape the sexual assault she faces at home. She meets Lou, who is driving aimlessly as she copes with the grief of losing her mother. The two form a friendship with a strange cat and travel through a surreal landscape in search of its home–and in search of themselves.

My Thoughts on Are You Listening

I’ll start with the only downside this book has: it’s somewhat confusing, at least the first time around. When you read it with too much focus on the strangeness of the plot or the few holes left in the story, the book seems muddled and makes very little sense. 

However, if you view the story for the message it provides and for the characters, you can appreciate it to its fullest.

The best part of this story is the way every aspect of it reflects the characters and the themes. The colors create a very deliberate mood in each scene–whether unsettling or peaceful–to reflect the emotions of the characters and environment. The book’s pacing and the mix of real life and fantasy also reflects the unsteadiness and chaos we feel when we are lost.

As this is a mostly setting-driven story, the background illustrations are incredible. The settings are creative and beautiful, and add to the reflection of the character’s moods and the theme of finding peace.

The art overall is so lovely. The techniques that Walden uses in the lighting and color of the art drastically improves the delivery of the story’s mood. Her use of textures in the smoke, water, and clouds are also really pretty.

are you listening? has an intriguing plot. It starts out fairly normal, with a situation that could happen in real life, but grows more fantastical and comes full circle at the end. It’s strange and whimsical, with ideas that are fresh and unique.

The friendship between the two main characters is one of the best female friendships I’ve seen in a long time. The characters complement each other perfectly– Lou provides comfort and a mother figure for Bea that she had been missing most of her life; and Bea acts as a distraction while Lou copes with the death of her mother.

are you listening? is an incredible story filled with emotion and power.

I recommend are you listening? to anyone who’s ever felt lost. This book will bring you peace.


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