Book Review: Lena Finkle's Magic Barrel: A Graphic Novel by Anya Ulinich

As the novel opens, we meet Lena (a 37-year-old, divorced, mother of two) as she receives an offer to go on a book tour in Russia. Lena was born in Russia, but migrated to the US as a child. She is newly divorced from her 2nd husband and, until this point, has had no real independence. 

During her trip to Russia, Lena’s high school boyfriend comes to the hotel unannounced. She hasn’t seen him in 20 years but they have kept communication intact. After spending the night together, finally consummating their decades long relationship, Lena announces to her friends that she’s in love. When her friend/mentor pushes back on Lena (specifically her lack of sexual/romantic experience), Lena decides to take some time to experiment sexually in the dark abyss of Ok Cupid.

The book is beautifully drawn and though could easily be a full length novel was excellently presented via a graphic novel. The author provides astute observations of dating in your 30’s, specifically the meat market of online dating. To say this is a book about dating would be selling it short, this is a book about a woman who until this point had always belonged to a man, and for the first time she has her independence.

Favorite Quote:

 “My sexual awakening was entirely the fault of the U.S. State Department.”

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