A heartfelt and vivid portrait of war trauma.

WHO OWNS THE CLOUDS?

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. 24, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2023

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Small but mighty necessary reading.

THE NEW QUEER CONSCIENCE

From the Pocket Change Collective series

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 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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Best enjoyed by preexisting fans of the author.

CONTINUUM

From the Pocket Change Collective series

Deaf, trans artist Man meditates on his journey and identity in this brief memoir.

Growing up in conservative central Pennsylvania was tough for the 21-year-old Deaf, genderqueer, pansexual, and biracial (Chinese/White Jewish) author. He describes his gender and sexual identity, his experiences of racism and ableism, and his desire to use his visibility as a YouTube personality, model, and actor to help other young people like him. He is open and vulnerable throughout, even choosing to reveal his birth name. Man shares his experiences of becoming deaf as a small child and at times feeling ostracized from the Deaf community but not how he arrived at his current Deaf identity. His description of his gender-identity development occasionally slips into a well-worn pink-and-blue binary. The text is accompanied and transcended by the author’s own intriguing, expressionistic line drawings. However, Man ultimately falls short of truly insightful reflection or analysis, offering a mostly surface-level account of his life that will likely not be compelling to readers who are not already fans. While his visibility and success as someone whose life represents multiple marginalized identities are valuable in themselves, this heartfelt personal chronicle would have benefited from deeper introspection.

Best enjoyed by preexisting fans of the author. (Memoir. 12-18)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-22348-2

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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