Sketch Review: Between Gears by Natalie Nourigat

watercolor painting of the University of Oregon main mall

In Between Gears, we watch Natalie Nourigat as she completes her last year at the University of Oregon. It is a sweet story of changing from one life stage to another. And we get a look into life in Eugene, Oregon.

The story is made up of a comic recording each day of the year. These records run from September 17, 2009 to June 14, 2010. Nourigat originally posted these on a blog. You can purchase them in book form though.

Eugene Locations

I liked the story since I graduated from the University of Oregon too. Nourigat goes to several important places for college students.

Rennie’s and Taylor’s

The social life of the university is focused on the many bars and coffees houses close to campus. With so many it can be hard to choose which one to go to.

Nourigot’s social trips mostly take place in two bars across the street from the university grounds called Rennie’s and Taylor’s. They are dive bars that are popular with locals. They give out lots of fried food and beer for a low price.

Chapman Hall

drawing of main entrance to Chapman Hall

Chapman Hall is the home of the Honors College. Nourigat spends a lot of time here as she writes an honor’s thesis.

University of Oregon Quad

The university quad is important in Nourigats’s story because Chapman Hall and the library are on the quad. This puts the quad in the middle of Nourigat’s story.

Amtrak Station

Over holidays the Amtrak Station is full of students traveling home. I was happy to see that Nourigat include the station. She travels home to Portland several times in Between Gears on the train.

Student Life in Eugene

I also like Nourigat’s way of showing life in Eugene though. In many ways life as a student is limited and full of small joys.

Nourigat shows the limitations of student life on the first page with a large part of Eugene marked as uncharted in the book’s map. We also see this in Nourigat’s focus on a small number of locations.

Most of the story takes place on the University of Oregon Memorial quad. Nourigat did an honors thesis and is at Chapman Hall a lot since it is the home of the honors college. The main university library is also on the Memorial Quad.

We also see times of happiness too. This is shown nicely when Nourigat finds a sunny balcony at Friendly Hall at the start of the story. Similar scenes are throughout the story.

A section where Nourigat sees a comic book show at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art was fun. We see Nourigat’s excitement for her craft and her reason for making comics.

Graduation

The story ends suddenly. Nourigat completes her thesis and graduates in two weeks. She then goes with her mom on a road trip to San Francisco.

This left me feeling that the story had not ended. So, I was happy to see that Nourigat has written several autobiographical graphic novels since Between Gears came out in 2010. I look forward to reading them.

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