This is the kind of story that sneaks under your skin and lurks there, unbidden, reminding you of its existence at random points during the day.
Continuity tells the story of Alicia, a 17-year-old from Bridgeport, Connecticut, who feels like an outsider every day of her life. She’s a punk in a town full of wealthy kids whose biggest concern is with their social status. Alicia’s only friend, Rodney, has a crush on her, but she rejects his advances. Instead, Alicia is in love with Kurt, the handsome boy who races yachts for fun and would never even condescend to pay attention to Alicia.
All of this is true until Alicia has a dream one night that she and Kurt make passionate love around a bonfire. The next morning Alicia’s parents wake her up, complaining about smoke in her room. Soon after, Alicia finds out the impossible has happened: she’s pregnant even though she’s is a virgin. It seems that somehow Alicia’s dreams have the power to literally remake reality.
Alicia is kicked out of her parents’ house and flees to New York City where she falls in with a group of homeless young people. To her surprise, she finds herself oddly happy with those friends–finding fellowship in a family of freaks who care enough to look after her, help her survive, and not allow her to fall asleep.
However, one night when her friends aren’t paying attention, Alicia falls asleep. What results is a bizarre future that seems right out of a teenager’s dreams.
I enjoyed how this book does such a nice job of reflecting the turbulent inner life that teenagers often have. It can be a world of great imagination and hope–though that same world is often tinged with fear and uncertainty. This book has a unique energy to it in that its central concept is a subjective look at the world within a teenager’s mind.
It’s often hard to tell what’s real and what’s unreal in this story, which seems to be the point. On the surface everything happens quite literally in this story–Alicia simply has dreams that re-create reality. In those dreams, virgins get pregnant and dystopian societies spring up overnight. Of course, the idea of dreams becoming real is a cliché of superhero comics, and is something most comic book readers have gotten used to.
However, on a deeper level, everything in this story can be viewed on a more metaphorical level. Maybe Alicia doesn’t become pregnant as much as she becomes infatuated with the idea of Kurt. Maybe she doesn’t find herself in a dystopian society as much as she imagines her circumstances as being horrific and terrifying.
This metaphorical reading seems especially true in the scene where Alicia tries to call home from her jail cell late in the book. She makes the call, but she finds out that not only do her parents not know her but her home town no longer exists. It’s easy to interpret that moment as her parents disowning Alicia–pushing away the child who had rejected them. Metaphorically, though, the moment is manifested in Alicia’s inner mind as something more sinister–the non-existence of an entire town.
In the same way, the framing story that sees Alicia become friends with a Jungian physcho-analyst is perhaps a reflection of an ongoing relationship with a therapist in which Alicia has begun to feel very comfortable. With that possibility in mind, McNamara and Talbert’s ending to this story is especially moving as it captures an Alicia who seems to have finally begun to grow and show emotional maturity.
McNamara’s story is intriguing, but I enjoyed Talbert’s art a bit less than I did the story.
The art often feels static and a bit unpolished. Some scenes are rather awkwardly drawn and look fairly flat. It matches the story in many places in that it’s easy to see the shaky art as a reflection of Alicia’s inner world, but it often feels like the story is fighting the art rather than art and story complementing each other.
This book is an intriguing look at a troubled suburban girl, and McNamara has spun an interesting story here. I’m curious to check out his other work.