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FINE by Rhea  Ewing Kirkus Star


A Comic About Gender

by Rhea Ewing ; illustrated by Rhea Ewing

Pub Date: April 5th, 2022
ISBN: 978-1-63149-680-6
Publisher: Liveright/Norton

A graphic narrative project on the multifaceted nature of gender.

In 2012, graphic artist Ewing, then a recent college graduate, joined a transgender support group to “speak honestly about this mixed-up thing called gender, to exist without a sense that I was failing at my part in life.” After finding online resources too impersonal, the author began interviewing friends about gender and reaching out to LGBTQ+ centers for assistance. The intent was to understand their own gender ambivalence through the perspectives of others and figure out “why I am cut out of some spaces and invited into others.” In their debut book, Ewing offers a timely, educative, and vividly rendered illustrated portrait. Based in the Midwest, Ewing spoke with more than 50 individuals varying in gender, age, and race, and the narrative includes those remarkable stories, which evolve as the book progresses. Many of these experiences began with unsettling episodes of gender dysphoria and the search for “clarity and control over how others saw me.” The author deftly assembles the most resonant responses, showing the participants generously discussing how gender is interconnected with race, culture, and sexuality; how it moves far beyond conventional masculine and feminine designations; and how embracing fluidity can be liberating and transformative regardless of social norms of appearance and behavior, many of which are constrictive and damaging. Ewing ably explores the complexities and difficulties of expressing gender in terms of sexuality, health care, visibility, language, and bathroom choices, and the elegant graphic format affords the author ample room to develop their themes visually. Ewing presents a uniquely straightforward, unembellished amalgam of narrative and illustration, smoothly braided with their own personal journey. The instructive yet never heavy-handed narrative boldly shows how identity is intimately interpreted and how connections with others can fortify perceptions and perspectives.

A vital, richly textured resource for anyone seeking a better understanding of gender identity.