All Freddy Riley wants is for Laura Dean to stop breaking up with her. The day they got back together was the best one of Freddy’s life, but nothing’s made sense since. Laura Dean is popular, funny and SO CUTE … but she can be really thoughtless, even mean. Their on-again, off-again relationship has Freddy’s head spinning — and Freddy’s friends can’t understand why she keeps going back.
When Freddy consults the services of a local mystic, the mysterious Seek-Her, she isn’t thrilled with the advice she receives. But something’s got to give: Freddy’s heart is breaking in slow motion, and she may be about to lose her very best friend as well as her last shred of self-respect. Fortunately for Freddy, there are new friends, and the insight of advice columnist Anna Vice, to help her through being a teenager in love.
Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me is a YA Graphic Novel written by Mariko Tamaki (Hulk (2016), Skim, This One Summer) and illustrated by Rosemary Valero-O'Connell. It follows Frederica "Freddy" Riley throughout her struggles with her on-again, off-again relationship with the eponymous Laura Dean. The novel was first published by First Second Books on May 7, 2019.
This work contains examples of:
- Beta Couple: Buddy and Eric, friends of Freddy who she describes as being "the only two people she knows who feel like they're really in love." It turns out that even they have their issues, stemming from the fact that Buddy is much more open about his sexuality than Eric, but they're still together by the end of the book.
- Bifauxnen: Laura Dean is woman that is tall, slim, with a boyish shortcut and whose charm looks like came out straight from the hero of a Shoujo manga.
- Break the Haughty: Laura Dean is reduced to sobbing and screaming "FUCK YOU!" repeatedly at Freddy after Freddy dumps her.
- Butch Lesbian: The titular Laura Dean.
- Cast Full of Gay: Almost every named character in the book is gay.
- Dance of Romance: Freddy and Laura Dean met when they were paired for square dancing in gym class. Freddy was immediately smitten, and Laura Dean asked her out (in a typically Laura Dean sort of way) after class.Freddy: Fucking square dancing.
- Deliberately Monochrome: Of the Limited Palette variety, the comic is mostly grayscale but also mixes in a particular, soft shade of pink.
- Drowning My Sorrows: Freddy somehow gets ahold of some sort of questionable liquor after witnessing Laura Dean kissing another girl. She ends up puking at a donut shop later.
- Dumped via Text Message: Laura's only response to Freddy after the dance is a text message that reads "don't be mad," which Doodle confirms sounds like a breakup text.Doodle: This is why modern technology will be the end of us.
- Good Adultery, Bad Adultery: Freddy kisses Mo while she and Laura Dean are in an "on" phase, but unlike Laura Dean's cheating, this is portrayed sympathetically, since Laura Dean cheated on her first and in general treats her very badly.
- Good Girls Avoid Abortion: In an aversion, Doodle does end up getting her pregnancy terminated. Notably, her dad seems extremely calm and clinical about the whole thing.
- Implied Love Interest: It's implied Freddy might have a crush on Vi, but due to Vi deeming herself "too old for her" and the drama with Laura Dean, nothing ever comes of it. Freddy ends the book single.
- Insecure Love Interest: Freddy is very insecure due to the fact about her relationship with Laura Dean, due to the fact that she's so popular and cool and charismatic—oh, and she's broken up with Freddy several times. Due to this insecurity Freddy ends up hyperfocusing on Laura Dean and neglecting her relationships with her friends and leaving Doodle high and dry when they really need her.
- First World Problems: Freddy muses on how the lack of homophobia in her community comes from generation after generation of gay activism for equality, and remarks ashamedly that it’s all led up to her being disappointed by her girlfriend.
- Full-Name Basis: Everyone just calls the titular character "Laura Dean."
- Hypocrite: Laura Dean, on top of her other faults.
- The story opens with her cheating on Freddy and blowing off her anger with a casual "Don't be mad", but she still acts affronted when Freddy later kisses Mo. To make matters worse, Freddy only did it because she saw Laura Dean making eyes at another girl that same night.
- It is shown that she keeps secrets from Freddy, like when she casually lies about having to go to track practice when there was no practice that day, and never admits where she actually went or what she was really doing. Despite this, she gets offended when Freddy says she's too busy to go to her early birthday party and doesn't want to tell her what her important business is (accompanying Doodle to her appointment at the abortion clinic).
- All three of her previous breakups with Freddy had been on holidays, but she still tries to call Freddy out for breaking up with her on her birthday (even though, as Freddy repeatedly points out, it isn't actually her birthday until Thursday).
- Jerkass: Laura Dean is capable of being charming, but she's also casually manipulative, unfaithful, condescending, and treats Freddy like dirt.
- Laser-Guided Karma: After dumping Freddy four times without ever apologizing for or changing her shitty behavior, Laura Dean finally gets a taste of her own medicine when Freddy dumps her just before her birthday, even quoting the same lines she used on her previously.
- Meaningful Echo: When Freddy finally breaks up with Laura Dean she quietly echoes the "don't be mad" text message Laura Dean sent her at the very beginning of the book.
- Narcissist: Laura Dean has some of the hallmarks. She is incredibly self-centered and shows zero regard for Freddy's feelings, expecting Freddy to always be there to cater to her whims, but not annoy her with her own pesky emotional needs. She's willing to manipulate Freddy just for the hell of it, and doesn't consider her friends and hobbies to be important. Like many narcissists, her ego, while massive, also appears to be incredibly fragile, as when Freddy finally gets sick of her crap and dumps her, she breaks down screaming and crying almost immediately.
- Oblivious to Love: Freddy Riley spends most of the comic struggling with her on-again-off-again relationship with her girlfriend Laura Dean, unaware of the affections of her friend Doodle who's always checking on her.
- Once Done, Never Forgotten: Vi loves giving Freddy grief over their first meeting, when Freddy drunkenly threw up in a donut shop.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Freddy ends her relationship with Laura Dean with one of these, pointing out that Laura is a terrible girlfriend and that being with her makes Freddy a terrible friend.
- Relationship Revolving Door: Laura Dean has broken up with Freddy three times, and every time has invited herself back into Freddy's life without so much as an apology.
- Shout-Out: Buddy wears a Dead by Daylight shirt in a montage that shows Freddy's friends having fun without her.
- Subtext: Early on, Doodle says that age of consent laws and maturity are arbitrary, since you could be a mature 16-year-old or an immature 20-year-old. While this line may seem somewhat random on a first time read, this scene foreshadows the reveal that Doodle is pregnant, after a much older married man took advantage of her. The subtext, therefore, might be that Doodle is trying to justify that that man's sexual violence was consensual since, in her mind, she was mature enough to consent. Her incorrect beliefs are exemplified by her disdain for how modern technology has made it impossible for others to "achieve intimacy", when what happened to her was actually rape.
- Teen Pregnancy: As it turns out, the thing Doodle had been desperately trying to talk to Freddy about is the fact that she accidentally got pregnant sleeping with a married man she knows from her tabletop roleplaying group.
- Tomboyish Name: Frederica almost always goes by just "Freddy," notably eschewing the alternate spelling ("Freddie") usually used by girls.
- Toxic Friend Influence: Laura makes Freddy a worse person while they're dating. While with her, Freddy gets so caught up in catering to Laura's extensive whims and needs and just trying to get them to not break-up again that she proceeds to grow more and more distant from her friends even in times of need.
- What Does She See In Her?: None of Freddy's friends understand why she keeps taking Laura Dean back when she constantly treats her like dirt.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Freddy's friends, especially Doodle, call her out for neglecting her friendships in favor of her relationship with someone who treats her very badly.