graphic novel

Nostalgia in a book

I’ve been laid up with a recurring infection that has put me behind on my reviews. Not to mention my reading, though that has been on the back burner for years now.

This One Summer by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki is an award-winning graphic novel published as recently as 2015. Rose is twelve, and is spending the summer in her family’s cottage in Awago with her parents. She is reunited with her younger friend Windy for a couple of months of swimming and midday candy.

But twelve is that awkward age when one is old enough to notice adult things happening, but still too young to understand them. Rose’s mother is behaving strangely, and her parents are arguing. She notices an older boy, and toys with the idea of ‘like liking’ him. She watches an older girl struggle with a difficult decision.

All the events are very relatable, and the illustrations are lovely. It’s just the extreme awkwardness that put me off this book. I basically walked (hopped?) around with my foot in my mouth during my teens, and it’s still a struggle to not be a self-obsessed, pretentious a**hat. But Rose is really awful at saying the right thing, or being perceptive. She accidentally insults Windy (who’s the adopted child of lesbians) multiple times, slut-shames a girl with no guilt, and has no sympathy for an upset family member. It’s a bit cringeworthy.

All in all, this is a very realistic depiction of an uneventful summer through the eyes of a girl who has just begun to grow up. It’s a short read, and I would recommend it if you are a female who likes graphic novels. 2/5 from me.

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Graphic Memoirs Are Cool

This is my review of Lighter Than My Shadow by Katie Green. As the name implies, this memoir is primarily about the author’s struggles with eating disorders. Quite a bleak read.

To be honest, I picked up this book because it was right next to a fat, colourful Asterix compendium… that was in French. College libraries for the win! But I digress.

Despite my initial skepticism (largely because it wasn’t Asterix), I ended up finishing this fat 500+ page tome in one sitting. It draws you in with its simple illustrations and narrative.

Katie was always a picky eater. She talks about how she hid away unwanted food as a child, and speculates whether that was an early symptom of the illnesses that plagued her for over a decade. During her teen years, she became sensitive to comments on her appearance, triggering her spiral into anorexia. After a brief recovery, she falls ill again and takes the help of an alternative healer to get rid of her ‘negative energy’. Seemingly cured, she heads off to college for a degree in Biology.

Her demons creep up on her again, this time in the form of binge eating. She seeks help again- from a real therapist this time- and slowly but steadily works her way back to health. Armed with some insight into her thought patterns and feelings towards food, she faces her illness head on. Plus she switches careers and becomes an illustrator. This memoir is, interestingly, her first work.

I liked this book for its minimalist illustrations and simple ways of representing complex emotions. However, I think that the whole premise falls flat unless the reader can relate to eating disorders, or Katie’s way of thinking in general. It is so personal and introspective that a bystander must either share in the emotions or move along. Either way, Katie Green has great talent and I will definitely be looking her up in the future.

3.5/5