Abouet emigrated from Ivory Coast many years ago, and this fictional narrative about three adolescent girls and their struggles to grow up and find their romantic footing draws on her memories. It takes place in Ivory Coast in 1978, when the country was really blooming economically (before many sad years ahead – there is a nice foreword that places the graphic novel in the broader context of Ivorian history).
The novel does an excellent job of teaching something about life in Africa without that being the goal: these are girls, with mostly the same concerns that girls probably have around the world, with some contextual constraints that affect their decisions, desires, and incentives.
I found it a light, quick escape with a little something more (the context). It took a total of an hour or so to read. There is now a sequel entitled Aya of Yop City. Thanks to Helge Dascher for the good translation (hidden on the copyright page: shame on you publishers!).
Note on content: Sex is implied, teen pregnancy is dealt with, and sexism is observed.