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For the Love of God, Marie! | Review

This review is not going to contain spoilers but it's going to talk about the book in detail so if you wanted to read it and feel like this would spoil it for you, then here is your warning to stop reading this and go and read the book. 


I had this graphic novel recommended to me by a creator on Youtube I like a lot, Scarf Demon, and I trusted her opinion because she's a literal artist. And now, it's my favourite graphic novel and has been for quite a few years now. Throughout my life, I've been collecting small segments of queerness, whether it's films, TV shows or books that I can revisit when I need comfort, and their quality doesn't necessarily matter so much as how they have influenced the way I look at myself  and whether they've made me feel better about my identity when real people in my life didn't. I suppose that's what fiction is for, at least for me - providing a detailed window of the life you want.

For The Love of God, Marie! is a graphic novel that follows it's titular character, Marie, as she reckons with her religion and her queerness. She develops a philosophy based in Christianity, that in order to heal those around her, she must "love her neighbour", something she takes very literally. Sex for Marie, something viewed as sinful by her school and parents (for young women at least) becomes a kind of healing, where she is able to seek out pleasure and give it to those often made invisible by the institutions in place. The story is separated out into her teenage years and her adulthood, and the way that religious shame can seep into every aspect, even those who haven't been raised with it. It's a pervasive idea that women expressing any kind of sexuality is shameful and deserves to be punished. This book seeks to invert this.

It's a complicated story, where Marie must come to terms with the fact that this philosophy, despite her good intentions, will negatively impact her friends and family, and it asks the reader to decide to what extent she is responsible for this and whether this is just the way society is structured. Giving pleasure for Marie is uncomplicated because she feels as though she was born to love - it's only made complicated by those who wish to repress these desires, particularly when they are queer.

A page from For the Love of God, Marie! A man and woman stand in the rain. The man is holding a yellow umbrella.
Source: Page 45

I think I was initially surprised by how explicit this book was, and I suppose there was a part of me that just didn't want to see sapphic women being over-sexualised, which is common in media. There is also the added stereotype that bisexual people are very promiscuous, that they will have sex with anyone that I also had to wrap my head around. What I've found is that it's not the sex itself that I take issue with but rather the flat characterisation that comes with all of the above. Marie is not a flat and digestible character. She feels complex and honestly like someone I would have wanted to be friends with in school - when I read this, she felt like a queer mentor.

Often grasping at scraps that mainstream entertainment gives us in terms of queer representation, it's refreshing to read a story that is so transgressively queer, and that is actually created by someone who is part of the community. This book remains formative in my own identity and understanding of sexuality, and for that reason, it still brings me a great amount of joy.


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