Congratulations to Cynthia Copeland and Algonquin Young Readers on the release of CUB, a fun graphic novel based on true events in the 1970s. I’ve seen it billed as both a novel and a memoir, but as Copeland explains in the Author’s Note, CUB “…is inspired by real events and maintains the essence of what happened in my life, but incorporates changes for a better reading experience.”
In CUB, 12-year-old Cindy has to navigate the mean girl "predators" in the halls at school and also traverse the minefield that is pre-teen friendships. At home, her parents have set opinions on how a girl should dress and act. But through an internship with a female reporter, Cindy manages to find her voice in a time when girls weren’t encouraged to speak up.
Twelve-year-old Cindy has just dipped a toe into seventh-grade drama—with its complicated friendships, bullies, and cute boys—when she earns an internship as a cub reporter at a local newspaper in the early 1970s. A (rare) young female reporter takes Cindy under her wing, and Cindy soon learns not only how to write a lede, but also how to respectfully question authority, how to assert herself in a world run by men, and—as the Watergate scandal unfolds—how brave reporting and writing can topple a corrupt world leader. Searching for her own scoops, Cindy doesn’t always get it right, on paper or in real life. But whether she’s writing features about ghost hunters, falling off her bicycle and into her first crush, or navigating shifting friendships, Cindy grows wiser and more confident through every awkward and hilarious mistake.
I love this take on the coming of age book. While Cindy has to deal with all the friendship drama common to 12-year-olds of every generation, her internship as a cub reporter allows us a glimpse into the news stories of the time, and a sense of the larger political drama of the time. Copeland's juxtaposition of common social stresses with the historic rise of feminism, Watergate, and Vietnam make a compelling read.
It’s hard to believe I’m old enough for my childhood to be historical fiction, but that made it extra enjoyable for me. Since it is set in the not-too-distant past, it can allow young readers to feel what it was like to be female in the 1970s, and see how far we’ve come.
My 11-year-old is partial to graphic novels, so I am always on the lookout for them, particularly of the social issue variety. The illustrations are bright, expressive, and enhance the fast-paced story. Get your copy online at IndieBound, Amazon, or Barnes & Noble, or find it at your local bookstore or library. Thanks to Algonquin Young Readers for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Copyright © 2023 Lara Lillibridge
Public domain imagery courtesy of Snappygoat.com