Humor and youthful angst lighten this graphic memoir of life in a country pulled strongly in different directions by conflicts between Western and conservative Muslim values.
Samanci looks back on her youth and schooling with a dual perspective: as a middle-class child caught up in relentless family pressure to excel academically as the only route to a secure future and, in a broader context, as a woman in a country that was forcibly Westernized years ago by the revered Atatürk but is currently experiencing a cultural backlash abetted by a repressive and corrupt government. The mixed context results in some wrenching juxtapositions. Effervescent childhood memories include falling madly in love with a stylishly dressed teacher, the huge popularity of the TV show Dallas (this was the early 1980s), and, later, trying (and failing) to juggle drama classes at one university with math classes at another. These are punctuated by graphic scenes of executions, comments from hostile schoolmates about “westernized bitches,” and a violent mugging on campus. Depicting herself with an unruly ginger mop that captures her character as well as making her easy to spot on the page, the author works dialogue and narrative around unframed, loosely drawn vignettes. These feature judicious spots of color, fluid lines, and occasional collage elements.
A bright, perceptive bildungsroman with a distinctive setting.
(Graphic memoir. 14 & up)