Written by Jessixa Bagley and illustrated by Aaron Bagley, Duel is a graphic novel about family relationships as much as it is about fencing. With creative word play and pictures, the pair tell the story of Lucy and Georgia (Gigi) Jones whose passion is fencing, a passion developed by their father and passed on to his two daughters. When Dad unexpectedly dies, the girls and their mother forget how to be a family, and soon, they are in turmoil.

Feeling inadequate and unsure of themselves, the two tweens take out their frustrations on one another. Pushed to her limits, Lucy challenges her sister to a duel. The entire school gets involved, but they have to keep the fight a secret since their own mother told them to cease fighting.

As the two navigate their secrets and train for the match, each is determined to triumph. In the process, the girls learn that it’s difficult to see love when pain lives in the heart. In an especially poignant moment in the book, Gigi, Lucy, and their mother realize that “the missing piece feeling” they are all experiencing is a natural one. “We don’t need to replace [that piece] or him. But maybe we can fill that space with the love we had for him” (239).

Another satisfying aspect of this text is how cleverly the Bagleys apply fencing terminology to everyday life–whether to capture sibling rivalry or simple conflict.

  • Posted by Donna

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