Koko’s always got a new project cooking, even though they usually end in total disaster. This time will be different, Koko promises herself. This time, she’s decided to Be Good. But how can a girl whose greatest talent is causing trouble get her act cleaned up? If she’s being honest with herself, Koko isn’t even sure what “being good” means.
Jon knows what being good means, and that’s why he’s going to Peru to support his girlfriend’s humanitarian mission. That’s good, all right, but is it what he wants? Jon has a promising future as a musician. Is he ready to give that up—maybe forever?
Two very different people, both struggling for direction, find their way into each other’s lives in Jen Wang’s first graphic novel. Honest, wrenching, and incredibly funny, Koko Be Good is a tour-de-force debut about human nature and the inhuman efforts we make to find ourselves.
A richly woven story of three misfits, each of whose intersecting lives threatens to crash and burn, but who survive and even thrive emotionally, unfolds in gorgeous watercolor-hued panels and tight, credible dialogue. Koko is a 20-something who really wants to be “good,” although she has a tendency to do just the wrong thing so often that others have difficulty trusting her motives. Slightly older Jon wants to join his older girlfriend in do-good work in Latin America, but she drops him. Faron, a teenager somewhat younger and less independent than Koko, works in a Vietnamese restaurant, where he is the scapegoat. All three characters are fully developed, delightfully drawn, and actively portrayed in contemporary San Francisco, whose neighborhoods also come to life on the large pages. This is stellar storytelling and art, opening a complex but accessible window onto real-life situations and self-discoveries. It should be most appealing to literary graphic-novel readers, other readers willing to crossover for the sake of a high-quality bildungsroman, and anyone else looking for beautiful and subtle art. Much more than a boy meets, or loses, girl affair, the story of Koko, Jon, and Faron is a multicultural fable in which universal truths are made fresh and inspiring. -- Booklist, starred review
written & illustrated by Jen Wang