|12 Days by June Kim|
Basically, for something like this, you have to pick something that does not fit in a genre, because you have folks who are never going to read that stuff with characters with the "big eyes" or "pretty boys" or that "anime crap with the robots" or whatever. You can't recommend something too dark or arty because then the people who like the other stuff get all angsty. Okay, it can be a little dark and arty, so people feel smart.
A manga for everyone, is kind of a manga in the middle, I guess.
For this, I picked June Kim's global manga, 12 Days, the story of a woman, Jackie Yuen, who drinks her dead lover's ashes over the period of 12 days to deal with the grief she feels over her death.
This isn't my favorite manga. I'm not even sure it is a favorite. But it has stuck with me over time. It's not a typical manga, sticking mostly to realism in style and form. It's creator is not Japanese. I don't even think it reads in the opposite direction ( I can't find my copy at the moment). It is arty, and sad, and thoughtful, closer to a graphic novel in conception, but published by the now defunct TokyoPop, it definitely is a manga. It deals with a queer romance in a sensitive and thoughtful way, and its structure is also interesting, ending in Chapter 0, at the beginning of the story.
It's worth the read, if you can find a copy. I'd be interested to hear if others have read this, and if they have an opinion.