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A heartfelt and vivid portrait of war trauma.

A woman looks back on her harrowing refugee experience.

Mila has a photo Papa took of her a few hours before they were forced to leave home. She doesn’t recognize the 9-year-old she sees in the picture, a somber, worried girl in a dark dress with short lace-up boots. In the days before they fled an unnamed country, Mila often slept, dissociating from the bombs filling the sky with smoke. Every night she dreamed about waiting in a never-ending line with her family while holding onto a suitcase. It wasn’t just Mila who was wondering what awaited them on the other side. The line was all anyone in her village talked about. “The clouds that crept closer and closer, adrift above our heads, clouds that seemed to come from nowhere…were they coming from the burning houses of my friends?” Mila pondered solemnly as the bombing escalated. That was when she and her family joined the line to seek refuge from their war-torn homeland. Twenty-five years later, although outwardly she may seem to fit in, she observes, “I know I’m different from other people.” The stark, absorbing illustrations evoke a mid-20th-century European setting and capture the introspective narrative with grace. Rendered largely in sepia tones aptly reminiscent of old photos, this graphic novel measures the weight of memories. The sparse pops of red and blue emphasize meaningful visual cues threaded through the work.

A heartfelt and vivid portrait of war trauma. (Graphic fiction. 13-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2023

ISBN: 9781774880210

Page Count: 100

Publisher: Tundra Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2023

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From the Pocket Change Collective series

Small but mighty necessary reading.

A miniature manifesto for radical queer acceptance that weaves together the personal and political.

Eli, a cis gay white Jewish man, uses his own identities and experiences to frame and acknowledge his perspective. In the prologue, Eli compares the global Jewish community to the global queer community, noting, “We don’t always get it right, but the importance of showing up for other Jews has been carved into the DNA of what it means to be Jewish. It is my dream that queer people develop the same ideology—what I like to call a Global Queer Conscience.” He details his own isolating experiences as a queer adolescent in an Orthodox Jewish community and reflects on how he and so many others would have benefitted from a robust and supportive queer community. The rest of the book outlines 10 principles based on the belief that an expectation of mutual care and concern across various other dimensions of identity can be integrated into queer community values. Eli’s prose is clear, straightforward, and powerful. While he makes some choices that may be divisive—for example, using the initialism LGBTQIAA+ which includes “ally”—he always makes clear those are his personal choices and that the language is ever evolving.

Small but mighty necessary reading. (resources) (Nonfiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09368-9

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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From the Pocket Change Collective series

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change.

Artist and activist Vaid-Menon demonstrates how the normativity of the gender binary represses creativity and inflicts physical and emotional violence.

The author, whose parents emigrated from India, writes about how enforcement of the gender binary begins before birth and affects people in all stages of life, with people of color being especially vulnerable due to Western conceptions of gender as binary. Gender assignments create a narrative for how a person should behave, what they are allowed to like or wear, and how they express themself. Punishment of nonconformity leads to an inseparable link between gender and shame. Vaid-Menon challenges familiar arguments against gender nonconformity, breaking them down into four categories—dismissal, inconvenience, biology, and the slippery slope (fear of the consequences of acceptance). Headers in bold font create an accessible navigation experience from one analysis to the next. The prose maintains a conversational tone that feels as intimate and vulnerable as talking with a best friend. At the same time, the author's turns of phrase in moments of deep insight ring with precision and poetry. In one reflection, they write, “the most lethal part of the human body is not the fist; it is the eye. What people see and how people see it has everything to do with power.” While this short essay speaks honestly of pain and injustice, it concludes with encouragement and an invitation into a future that celebrates transformation.

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change. (writing prompt) (Nonfiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09465-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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