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WHO OWNS THE CLOUDS? by Mario Brassard


by Mario Brassard ; translated by Yvette Ghione ; illustrated by Gérard DuBois

Pub Date: Jan. 10th, 2023
ISBN: 9781774880210
Publisher: Tundra Books

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)