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Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass Book Poster Image
Teen brings revolution to Gotham in vibrant graphic novel.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass offers an opportunity to discuss gentrification and activism.

Positive Messages

Community activists can work together to effect change. Families come in all sorts of shapes and sizes.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Harley endured a troubled childhood, but it did not crush her enthusiastic spirit. She's warmhearted and inclined to favor the underdog. She has few emotional filters, however, which can cause her to step outside the law when those people she cares about are threatened.

Violence

Punches are thrown, especially in the juvenile lockup. Mostly property damage with no apparent injuries. Harley sets some motorcycles on fire. The Joker causes various explosions.

Sex

The costuming of Mama's fellow drag queens is slightly salacious, as is Harley's form-fitting costume.

Language

Teen and adult characters swear occasionally, with a handful of uses of "s--t," "f--k," and "a--hole."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass tells the origin story of the title character after she arrives in Gotham City. As written by Mariko Tamaki, Harley is goodhearted and enthusiastic but can be violent if she or her friends are threatened. Violence leads only to property damage, for the most part, but physical punches are thrown. Drag queens fighting gentrification figures in the plot. Teen and adult characters swear occasionally, with a handful of uses of "s--t," "f--k," and "a--hole."

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What's the story?

As HARLEY QUINN: BREAKING GLASS opens, 15-year-old Harleen Quinzel arrives in Gotham City with $5in her pocket. She's taken in by Mama, Gotham's finest drag queen, and shown the ropes of high school by a female activist named Ivy. But then a major corporation targets Mama's cabaret for closure, and Harleen has to decide how and when to strike back.

Is it any good?

Creating a relatable anti-heroine is a difficult task, but this frenetic origin story features a protagonist who is unpredictable, bighearted, naive, and a little bit dangerous. Writer Mariko Tamaki captures the characters' distinctive speech patterns and devises for Harley a story that's fast-paced, exciting, funny, and touching. Artist Steve Pugh's beautifully garish illustrations are perfect for this project, giving Harley room to strut her stuff in an environment that pulses with energy. Harley doesn't follow the straight and narrow, but her heart's in the right place. Readers will find some laughs, some danger, and a touch of poignancy in this vibrant graphic novel.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass depicts violence. Is violence ever an effective method of promoting change?

  • How does gentrification affect neighborhoods and their inhabitants? Should residents expect to pay reasonable rents? What can be done to promote affordable housing?

  • Why does Ivy care that the high school film society doesn't show films made by women? How has gender bias in Hollywood affected the careers of actresses and female directors?

Book details

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