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Graphic Memoirs to Enrich Your TBR

by Jen Moyers (@jen.loves.books)




This week, we're releasing our Unabridged Podcast Book Club episode in which we discuss Mira Jacob's graphic memoir Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations. Though we each recommend a pairing in the episode, mine (spoiler alert!) is not a graphic memoir, so I wanted to share some that I've enjoyed. (If you're interested in joining our IG chat about Good Talk on March 15, let us know!)


Classics of the Format


Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood and Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return

Art Spiegelman's Maus: A Survivor's Tale: My Father Bleeds History and Maus II: A Survivor's Tale: And Here My Troubles Began


These are two of the first graphic memoir series that I read: while I hesitated to include them, they are well worth picking up if you haven't had a chance to read them yet. Both are powerful examinations of important eras in our history that we are still trying to navigate: the Islamic Revolution and the Holocaust. Artistically, these are both gorgeous and innovative: Persepolis features black-and-white art, and Maus, the story of Spiegelman's father, presents his Jewish family as mice.


For Older Readers


Alison Bechdel's Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic

Thi Bui's The Best We Could Do (IG review)

George Takei's They Called Us Enemy (IG review)


These three graphic memoirs could not be more different, but all three do focus on relationships between parents and children. Bechdel's Fun Home focuses on her father's coming out soon after she herself did; soon after, her father dies, so the book is a beautiful tribute to the complicated relationship between this father and daughter. Bui's The Best We Could Do is about her parents' immigration from Vietnam to the United States and the way it had a last effect on Bui and on how she sees herself as a daughter and a mother. Takei's They Called Us Enemy tells the story of his family's incarceration in prison camps during WWII and his attempts to reconcile their experience as he comes of age.


For Younger Readers


Cece Bell's El Deafo

Victoria Jamieson, Omar Mohamed, and illustrator Iman Geddy's When Stars Are Scattered (IG review)

John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and illustrator Nate Powell's March Book One, Book Two, and Book Three

Raina Telgemeier's Smile, Sisters, and Guts (IG review of Guts)


First, let me just acknowledge that the age range here is tough to pin down: I think that the March series is also well suited to older readers. But each of these tells a story that is accessible to younger readers, as well. Bell's El Deafo is her exploration of what it was like to first begin wearing her hearing aid in elementary school: she works through both the challenges and some benefits she didn't expect. When Stars Are Scattered is the moving story of Mohamed's time in a refugee camp in Kenya with his older, disabled brother after they are separated from their mother and the way that he fights to find a more stable, safe home. The March trilogy beautifully details John Lewis's part in the Civil Rights Movement, framing his experience with the election of President Obama. Finally, Telgemeier's trio of Smile, Sisters, and Guts explores her family's relationship and her own struggle with anxiety


#bookishfaves #graphicmemoir #nonfiction #memoir #childrenslit #middlegrade #yalit

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