books, Graphic Novel, People of Color, Reading

“everyone’s a aliebn when ur a aliebn too” by jomny sun

“hapiness is accepting that sadness will always exist
and then decidimg to be hapy anyway”

(and yes, I know, the spelling makes your brain squeak, but it is sooo worth it.)

Folks, it has has been a rough couple of weeks. The tension, anger, and fear in the air seem untenable sometimes. Heightened anxiety has certainly made writing harder for me, when all I want to do is play opossum and hide in my bed. Books, however, remain my solace, my shield, and, often, my sage. Books remind me of the good in the world, lift my spirits with their beauty and creativity, and expose me to new viewpoints and important truths. It is fitting, then, that the next book in my “review queue” is jomny sun’s brilliant, heartwarming missive.

IMG_0742What started as a twitter comic has blossomed into this beautiful little book that will make you smile and sigh in equal measure. “everyone’s a aliebn when ur a aliebn too” is the story, in graphic form, of jomny, an alien sent to Earth to study humans. Startlingly and refreshingly innocent, jomny thinks everything he comes across is a ‘humabn’ – trees, snails, bears – and yet what he learns about Earth is truer and purer than if he were “right” about what he observed.

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Jonathan Sun, the author behind jomny sun’s brilliance, writes with quiet confidence and piercing insight, reminding us what it is to be human and to be alive. This graphic novel may take less than an hour to read, but I promise you will return to it again and again, and even when you are not caressing its sweet pages, you will be lifted up by your memories of it.

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books, Debut Novel, Graphic Novel, Memoir, Reading, Women Writers

“Tangles” by Sarah Leavitt

IMG_0632In “Tangles”, Sarah Leavitt writes about “Alzheimer’s, my mother, and me”. “Tangles” is a graphic memoir, of sorts, in which Leavitt tries to unpack the heartache and frustrations of watching her strong, independent, witty mother disappear and eventually die from early-onset Alzheimer’s.

Leavitt’s drawings feel like sketches – they often lack detail and stray from realism to a more cartoonish bent. Likewise, Leavitt’s writing is often sketched; her passages are truncated and lack embellishment.

The book is true to the graphic novel form in its interdependence of pictures and words, but doesn’t take full advantage of the possibilities the form provides. In my mind, great graphic novels use the pictures to communicate and bring greater emotionality and dimension to the story. Shade and light, layout and storyboard can give a story an organic sense of flow and a greater depth and weight. Though Leavitt’s story is itself compelling – her anguish at the loss of her mother is palpably clear – her book itself felt underdeveloped. The sketchiness, rather than feeling like a signature style, felt unfinished. The crowded, overly simplistic panel layout of pages disrupted any chance of flow. This book, to me, could well be the pitch for a great story, but what I read was not yet that story.

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