The setting: A boys' boarding school in Germany, sometime in the mid-20th Century. One winter day, fourteen year-old Thomas Werner falls from a lonely pedestrian overpass to his death, immediately after sending a single, brief letter to another boy at the school:
To Juli, one last time.
This is my love.
This is the sound of my heart.
Surely you must understand.
Thus begins Moto Hagio's The Heart of Thomas one of the most compelling and enigmatic manga graphic novels ever created, and a pioneer in the popular boys'-romance "shounen-ai" genre. Thomas's death (was it an accident? Suicide? Or even murder?) immediately throws the school into turmoil, while his letter sets off a chain of emotional upheaval both for the recipient and an ever-expanding circle of friends, family, and teachers, as secrets are revealed and shared. And then a new boy who looks exactly like Thomas shows up at school
Unabashedly romantic and emotionally complex, The Heart of Thomas features an unusual, richly imagined setting and a cast of memorable characters. This timeless masterpiece is now finally available to American readers.
23-page excerpt (download 8.2 MB PDF):
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"It may have taken 40 years for an English translation to arrive on our shores, but you'll understand what all the fuss is about within the first few pages." — NPR Books
"This gorgeous hardcover from Fantagraphics is a book I've been awaiting for over ten years, and it exceeds my expectations. It's a magnificent, moving story." — Boing Boing
"I found The Heart of Thomas to be both beautiful and emotionally resonant to an extent I’ve rarely experienced. This is a book I’d wholeheartedly recommend to any comics fan, without reservation. It’s an absolute treasure." — Manga Bookshelf
"A wistful and spellbinding tale of forbidden love at a boarding school in Germany. ... Fantagraphics presents this rich and vivid story in a beautiful single hardcover volume." — The Robot's Voice
"There's beautiful '70s shojo artwork, with jewel-eyed, gazelle-like, androgynous characters and decadent imagery. And there's Hagio's great dialogue, her dreamlike sense of unreality and her willingness to get deep into her themes." — Anime News Network