Empire State: A Love Story (or Not)

Empire State: A Love Story (or Not)

2.8 5
by Jason Shiga

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Jimmy is a stereotypical geek who works at the library in Oakland, California, and is trapped in his own torpidity. Sara is his best friend, but she wants to get a life (translation: an apartment in Brooklyn and a publishing internship). When Sara moves to New York City, Jimmy is rattled. Then lonely. Then desperate. He screws up his courage, writes Sara a

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Jimmy is a stereotypical geek who works at the library in Oakland, California, and is trapped in his own torpidity. Sara is his best friend, but she wants to get a life (translation: an apartment in Brooklyn and a publishing internship). When Sara moves to New York City, Jimmy is rattled. Then lonely. Then desperate. He screws up his courage, writes Sara a letter about his true feelings, and asks her to meet him at the top of the Empire State Building (a nod to their ongoing debate about Sleepless in Seattle). 

Jimmy's cross-country bus trip to Manhattan is as hapless and funny as Jimmy himself. When he arrives in the city he's thought of as "a festering hellhole," he's surprised by how exciting he finds New York, and how heartbreaking—he discovers Sara has a boyfriend! 

Jason Shiga's bold visual storytelling, sly pokes at popular culture, and subtle text work together seamlessly in Empire State, creating a quirky graphic novel comedy about the vagaries of love and friendship.

Praise for Empire State:

"He [Shiga] displays a wicked sense of comic timing." 
-Publishers Weekly 

"Empire State: A Love Story (Or Not) is funny, sweet, geeky and affecting, and definitely worth a read." 

"Shiga's illustrations . . . are unique and endearing, and his images of NYC are instantly recognizable."
 -am New York 

"If Woody Allen grew up in Oakland rather than Manhattan, he'd most likely see the world, and especially New York City, as Jason Shiga does in Empire State." -Big Think.com

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Jimmy's first crush/best friend Sara has moved to New York to encounter the wider world. So Jimmy, a socially awkward man-child who likes reading hard sci-fi (the kind with rocket ships) and has no idea what a latte is, embarks on a perilous bus trip from his home in Oakland to Brooklyn to profess his love to her. He soon learns that the only thing worse than sharing a small bus with random ex-cons comparing notes on their prison experiences is crashing on a couch in a small Brooklyn apartment with Sara and her new boyfriend, Mark. Sara and Mark do their best to welcome Jimmy to the grown-up world, showing him different parts of the city and trying to broaden his limited horizons, but there's a real question as to whether their gentle coaching will take. Shiga (Meanwhile, Double Happiness) walks a fine line between sappy rom-com and maudlin love-lost tale, but largely succeeds in maintaining a balanced middle. He's aided by a crude yet geometric penciling style that draws the reader very effectively into Jimmy's point of view. He also displays a wicked sense of comic timing, which is equally effective at portraying awkward pauses and slapstick physicality. (May)
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Jimmy, an Asian man, and Sara, a Jewish woman, are best friends. They live in Oakland, but Sara dreams of working in the publishing industry and moves to New York. They have a long-distance friendship at first, but when Sara sends him a tote bag from the Strand bookstore, Jimmy decides to travel across the country to see her again. He has romantic ideas about Sara, and about New York itself. He wants to meet her at the top of the Empire State Building at sunset, just like in Sleepless in Seattle. He takes a bus rather than a plane because he wants to see more of the country, but the trip and the destination don't turn out to be what he expected. At first Jimmy is a young man who signs his paychecks over to his mother, who then gives him an allowance. He is happy with his library job, and happy in Oakland. But Sara inspires him to be brave, and to make choices he never would have made before. Shiga uses a simple, cartoon style to illustrate this book. The story is alternately saturated in red and blue tones that don't make sense at first, but readers will soon realize that the colors of the pages indicate chronological shifts in the story. This is a semiautobiographical book that was inspired by a cross-country Greyhound bus trip, and it will be most appreciated by readers who are ready to savor this quietly emotional journey.—Andrea Lipinski, New York Public Library
Children's Literature - Michael Jung PhD
Inspired by a real-life Greyhound bus trip, this is the story of Jimmy, a twenty-something library worker who feels his comfortable but boring life grow empty when his best friend Sara moves to New York to pursue a publishing career. Deciding he's been in love with Sara for years, Jimmy sends her a love letter and takes a bus to New York, hoping to find the sort of happy ending he's seen in movies like Sleepless in Seattle. But real life isn't anything like the movies, and soon Jimmy must contend with creepy bus travelers, weird New Yorkers, and a slow mail delivery service. Will Jimmy still reach his happy ending? Or will his impromptu trip reveal unexpected truths about that strange place between love and friendship? While drawn in the same cartoonish style as Shiga's celebrated fantasy Meanwhile, this is a vastly more mature work that manages to poke fun at romantic illusions without completely puncturing them. Readers will be able to sympathize with Jimmy as he learns to enjoy the wonders of the big city even as he loses some of his ideals. Shiga's fans will not be disappointed. Reviewer: Michael Jung, PhD
VOYA - Jamie Hansen
Naive, socially inept Jimmy drifts through a geek's life in Oakland, California: he works at a dead-end job in a library, likes science fiction (the kind with a rocket ship on the cover), and thinks he is a computer programmer. His best friend and secret crush, outspoken, tough-minded Sara, is planning a life—or at least her version of one—involving an efficiency apartment in Brooklyn and an internship at a publishing company. When Sara moves to New York to fulfill her dream, Jimmy breaks free of his inertia, embarking on a hellish cross-country bus ride, imagining a joyous lovers' reunion in which both profess their love. As is often the case, however, life has other plans for Jimmy and Sara, including a few unwelcome surprises. Eisner Award—winning graphic novelist Shiga has created a slyly humorous and wistful postmodern tale of unrequited love and contemporary culture. His stocky, minimalist figures with their bulbous eyes are deceptively simple but remarkably expressive. He places them against a variety of simply drawn but recognizable Oakland and New York backdrops of bus stations, suburban streets, parks, and cityscapes. The alert reader will soon realize that the seemingly random use of either red or blue tones in various parts of the story reveals the sequence of events in the nonlinear plot. Older teens who like quirky and offbeat graphic novels, especially coming-of-age stories, will identify with this account of one innocent pilgrim's melancholy progress. Reviewer: Jamie Hansen

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Product Details

Abrams, Harry N., Inc.
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Product dimensions:
8.08(w) x 6.56(h) x 0.85(d)

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