Jane, the Fox and Me by Fanny Britt is your typical story about being bullied in middle school. The pencil illustrations by Isabelle Arsenault are beautifully done, with eraser marks in the text that add to the authenticity of the story. This one has a content warning for not just bullying but fatphobia.

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The summary, from Amazon:

A graphic novel about bullying, body image and the transformative power of fiction.

Hélène has been inexplicably ostracized by the girls who were once her friends. Her school life is full of whispers and lies — Hélène weighs 216; she smells like BO. Her loving mother is too tired to be any help. Fortunately, Hélène has one consolation, Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. Hélène identifies strongly with Jane’s tribulations, and when she is lost in the pages of this wonderful book, she is able to ignore her tormentors. But when Hélène is humiliated on a class trip in front of her entire grade, she needs more than a fictional character to see herself as a person deserving of laughter and friendship.

Leaving the outcasts’ tent one night, Hélène encounters a fox, a beautiful creature with whom she shares a moment of connection. But when Suzanne Lipsky frightens the fox away, insisting that it must be rabid, Hélène’s despair becomes even more pronounced: now she believes that only a diseased and dangerous creature would ever voluntarily approach her. But then a new girl joins the outcasts’ circle, Géraldine, who does not even appear to notice that she is in danger of becoming an outcast herself. And before long Hélène realizes that the less time she spends worrying about what the other girls say is wrong with her, the more able she is to believe that there is nothing wrong at all.

This emotionally honest and visually stunning graphic novel reveals the casual brutality of which children are capable, but also assures readers that redemption can be found through connecting with another, whether the other is a friend, a fictional character or even, amazingly, a fox.

Buy Jane, the Fox and Me here.

Hélène has been ostracized by the other girls at school, who make fun of her, saying she is fat and smelly. Hélène feels all alone and only finds comfort in the book she is reading, Jane Eyre. When she goes on a camping trip with her class, she briefly meets a fox and then befriends another girl. After a visit to the doctor, her mother becomes aware of her disordered thoughts about her weight, but Hélène also shares that she has made a friend.
Honestly, this was a pretty depressing read, though I think it is probably relatable for most middle grade/middle school girls. Everyone has been bullied at one point or another, even if they are a bully themselves. I can recall feeling alone and friendless when I was perhaps three or four years older than the main character. The theme of finding escape in fiction is done without being too stereotypical and on the nose. Hélène is disbelieving of the realism of the ending of Jane Eyre. While I didn’t love this book, I liked it and felt emotionally gripped the entire time, making it a 4 star read for me.

Find out more about how I rate books here.

Jane, the Fox & MeJane, the Fox & Me by Fanny Britt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

cw: bullying & fatphobia

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Book Club Questions

  1. Why do the other girls start bullying Hélène – do we ever find out? Does it matter?
  2. Do you think Hélène has truly found a friend by the end of the novel?
  3. Can we find comfort in fiction?
  4. What are the themes of this graphic novel?
  5. Are Hélène’s thoughts about her body and weight healthy? Are they normal things to think?

Interested? Buy Jane, the Fox and Me.
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