I Thought You Loved MeField Mouse Press, February 2023
This graphic Gen X memoir, which is told in prose, collage, and sequential art, explores queer culture, feminism, race, class, sex work, and the flawed nature of memory as Mari works to uncover a long-lost best friend that she can no longer remember but can’t let go.
Jodie was Mari’s best friend through their teens and twenties. As young Mari began to explore her identity as a bisexual, biracial outsider in a rich, white town, Jodie was her constant confidant, even kissing Mari out of the closet. The two were inseparable as they sought to gain a foothold in life and love as young feminists, Jodie an entrepreneurial sex worker, and Mari working in the boys’ club of video game development in the late ‘90s. Then, suddenly and mysteriously, Jodie ends their friendship. Years later, Mari is stunned when she discovers why.
Now much older, Mari is ready to forgive, but her memories of Jodie seem to have vanished. Through journal excerpts, letters, conversations with friends, and cross-country travel, she pieces together lost memories from a lost friendship, in an attempt at catharsis. The reader follows in real-time as the author unravels her own mystery, examining the expectations of friendship, the unreliability of memory, and the struggle to let go.
Praise for I Thought You Loved Me
“Can I have a crush on a comic? There is so little experimentation anymore in the form, it feels abrupt and exciting to fall into I Thought You Loved Me, like an infatuation, the brights are bright and the darks, dark. MariNaomi creates a new idiom for this comic, pushing the form to describe and evoke the layers of the story, which is eluding her even as she tries to tell it. Brilliant, heartbreaking, revealing as a dream.”Alexander Chee, author of How To Write An Autobiographical Novel
“In I thought You Loved Me, MariNaomi becomes an artist-detective, investigating her memories and scrutinizing her past to find understanding, resolution, and forgiveness–for others and for herself.”
“With I Thought You Loved Me, MariNaomi has created a new genre: the memoir-thriller. What begins as an exercise in rifling through the scrapbook of her memories turns into a series of unlikely and even jaw-dropping events. With MariNaomi’s innovative use of collage and minimalist line art, I Thought You Loved Me transforms from leisurely read into page-turning shocks, never deviating from its focus on intimacy, memory, and loss. “
“This book is a tremendous achievement, a penetrating exploration of memory and relationships and the messiness of living with a changing self and other changing selves. The art is intriguing and beautiful, and it complements and enhances the story. I’ve never read anything else quite like this.”
Steph Cha, author of Your House Will Pay
A meditation on friendship, separation, memory, and forgiveness, I Thought You Loved Me is a riveting real-life mystery told in inventive graphic novel form.
The book’s art and storytelling style are an inventive hybrid of drawn images, photographs, and text, the latter featuring a wide array of fonts. The result of this combination, along with MariNaomi’s willingness to share personal details, is a story that resonates with texture, intimacy, and elements of voyeurism.
Dazzling in theme, story, and visuals, I Thought You Loved Me is a standout graphic memoir.
Foreword Reviews (Starred)