When the girlfriend of a Dublin bus driver disappears without a trace, he can’t help but wonder whether it’s more than just a ghosting

Steve, the bus-driving protagonist of Debbie Jenkinson's Ghosting

Ghosting is when one person in a relationship deliberately disappears, going out of their way to avoid all contact with the other. They don’t answer phone calls, emails or texts, leaving the victim with no way of knowing whether they’ve just been dumped or something more serious has happened. In Debbie Jenkinson’s latest book it’s her protagonist, Steve, who has been ghosted by his girlfriend.

Steve is a Dublin bus driver, doing the run between the town centre and the airport. He regularly picks up an Italian woman, Monica, who is living and working in the city. They become friends and, slowly but surely, things move forward. She seems keen, they’re both happy and they seem to be falling in love. Then, one day, she’s gone, without telling Steve why or where she’s going.

This is where we enter the story. Steve is heartbroken and suspicious. His friends tease him that he’s simply been ghosted, that she was out of his league anyway, that there was always something a bit odd about her. However, he can’t help but think that something’s afoot.

Steve and Monica in a flashback in Debbie Jenkinson's Ghosting

Jenkinson unfolds the story gently and carefully, peeling it back layer by layer. It’s a luxurious read, slowly paced but never boring, as kind and gently inquisitive as her protagonist, Steve the bus driver. It’s a story of real people, down-to-earth and universal.

Jenkinson’s art is as subtle and personal as the story. Coloured pencil is the medium of choice and it’s just perfect, shifting between light pastel colours and heavy-handed shadowy darkness when it’s needed. But as with the story, there’s subtlety and texture here, deftly executed. Her characters aren’t illustrated in a complex way but they’re brimming with expression and emotion.

There’s nothing not to like about this book, it exudes charm. Its characters are human and real; the story a compelling, modern romance gone awry. It’s the kind of thing I don’t see that often in comics and it isn’t something I’d particularly be inspired to pick off a shelf, but I’m truly glad to have experienced it. I enjoyed Remorse, Jenkinson’s first book, but Ghosting truly takes her talent to the next level. Enjoy.

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