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MONSTROUS by Sarah Myer Kirkus Star


A Transracial Adoption Story

by Sarah Myer ; illustrated by Sarah Myer

Pub Date: June 27th, 2023
ISBN: 9781250268808
Publisher: First Second

An adopted teen struggles with monstrous submerged anger amid bullying and self-criticism in this graphic memoir.

Author Myer, South Korean by birth, grew up in rural Maryland with White adoptive parents and a sister, Lizzy, who was adopted from a different South Korean family. Unlike Lizzy, who was popular and did well in school, rambunctious Sarah didn’t quite fit in, playing more easily with boys than girls. However, a wildly vivid imagination and burgeoning artistic talents helped Sarah interact with others; Sarah’s focus on drawing and animation wasn’t just a hobby, but a passion and an ongoing lens for relating to the outside world. Sarah’s use of anime cosplay to explore curiosity about gender expression and sexuality skillfully expresses central elements of the book and adds complexity to this coming-of-age story. The frequent racial microaggressions of early childhood escalated over time, with racist and homophobic White middle and high schoolers insulting, physically bullying, and harassing Sarah on a daily basis. As Sarah internalized this hatred, it was magnified by self-doubt, much of which was centered around being adopted, and it began to manifest as an angry, monstrous self that lashed out violently at bullies, friends, and even family. The themes of anxiety and self-image are powerfully depicted by contrasting the more minimalist drawing style in fairly neutral tones with dramatically shaded and dynamic panels.

Immersive and engrossing: a beautifully depicted emotional journey.

(resources, author’s note, photos) (Graphic memoir. 13-18)