A 20-something cartoonist with a unique sense of humor sets off on a cruise to the Caribbean with her nonagenarian grandparents.
In this follow-up to her graphic memoir An Age of License (2014), the talented Knisley offers a pointed juxtaposition to her earlier travelogue set in Europe. When her grandparents Phyllis and Allen decided to take a cruise ship to the Caribbean, the author (recovering from a recent breakup) accompanied them on the 10-day journey. And she worried—a lot. Among Knisley’s concerns were her grandparents’ progressive dementia, their physical limitations, the potential for norovirus (“puking/pooping virus”), her own insomnia and anxiety, and the virulent rudeness of the thousands of other passengers. “This is not at all like my last trip,” writes the author. “I traveled around Europe on my own, drinking wine, learning languages, and having a passionate love affair. That trip was about independence, sex, youth, and adventure. This trip is about patience, care, mortality, respect, sympathy and love.” In between her amusing drawings depicting life on the ship and the strange comedy that came with taking care of her elders, Knisley offers excerpts from her grandfather’s World War II memoir. This inclusion lends the book an interesting contrast between her grandparents’ worldview when they were her age and Knisley’s frenetic, impatient, all-too-busy inner self. It’s also worth noting that the narrative storytelling is delightful, combining easy-to-follow layouts with the artist’s unique visual style, vivid watercolors and quirky sense of humor. The result is an impressive high-wire act that balances observational humor and a highly tuned sense of self with a moving portrait of the ways compassion can affect even the most self-aware among us. Knisley says these books lock into place a certain time in her memory. Readers are fortunate she brought her notebooks with her on these unusual journeys.
A moving but also very funny meditation on time, age and grace.