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CALLING DR. LAURA by Nicole J. Georges

CALLING DR. LAURA

A Graphic Memoir

By Nicole J. Georges (Author) , Nicole J. Georges (Illustrator)

Pub Date: Jan. 22nd, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-547-61559-2
Publisher: Mariner/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

A meandering graphic memoir by a young cartoonist who seems to have most of her story ahead of her.

The pivotal points of the narrative come nearly 200 pages apart. Early on, Georges (Invincible Summer 2, 2008, etc.) writes about a visit to a palm reader who tells her that the father she’s never known, who she’s been told by her mother is dead, is in fact alive. The second arrives with the title incident toward the end, after the author has found out little about her father except for the fact that he likely is alive. She makes a call to Dr. Laura on how to handle her Christmas visit with the mother she no longer trusts. There’s also some subtext to this—not shared with Dr. Laura—that the author is a closeted lesbian, and her mother became estranged from an older daughter when she came out. That sister has also provided the author with testimony that her father (the younger sister’s; the older sisters have a different father) is alive. The narrative lacks focus and command, skipping all over the place chronologically as well as geographically, as the author addresses her not-very-dramatic relationships with girlfriends, her series of stepfathers and would-be father figures and her reluctance to address her sexuality with her mother (much to the annoyance of her live-in lover). There are lots of animals as well, mostly dogs, but a pet chicken, too. The narrative builds to the phone call with Dr. Laura, who has been barely mentioned through the preceding 190 pages, and whose cut-to-the-chase advice is curt, cold and not very helpful. “I cut my losses and moved forward,” writes Georges, in what seems to be the end of the prologue for the life to come. And then comes the epilogue, in which she (kind of) solves the mystery of her father.

The mostly engaging tone and humor can’t compensate for a lack of substance and continuity.