20 Apr / Keeping Two by Jordan Crane [in Shelf Awareness]
Jordan Crane (The Last Lonely Saturday) spent more than two decades creating Keeping Two, a magnificently multilayered graphic novel that empathically addresses the universal human fears of losing those most beloved. In the course of a single evening, the story introduces, challenges, and reconnects two lovers, Connie and Will.
The couple arrives home from a long and exhausting drive. “We should take the train next time,” Will says as they close the front door. After checking their phone messages and then returning calls, they learn of two deaths. Will insists deaths happen in threes but, superstitions aside, their immediate hunger inspires a deal: Connie will go to the store and pick up a movie, while Will commits to cleaning the massive piles of dirty dishes. They part with a casual “I’ll see you in a little bit,” but their reunion doesn’t happen for hours and hours – and hundreds of pages – plenty of time to imagine every worst-case scenario. In between, Crane brilliantly reveals their contentious road trip, the book they’ve been reading out loud along the way (watch for ever-so-subtle shifts), and the callers with their sad stories.
Crane presents his panels – mostly six-on-a-page – in an unusual palette of lime-to-forest green washes over line drawings. Nature, especially plants and trees, is hinted at throughout, culminating in magical woody scenes near the story’s end. The final page with publication data adds, “Forest Stewardship Council certified,” as if a last reminder of protecting life. While the “rule of threes” looms, for these lovers’ sake, two is plenty enough.