Abirached, who grew up in Beirut during the Lebanese civil war, shares childhood memories in this unconventional graphic memoir.
Born in 1981, Abirached grew up surrounded by the realities of war: Her family’s home was close to the demarcation line between East and West Beirut. In her earlier graphic memoir, A Game for Swallows (2012), she focused on a single evening when she and her brother anxiously awaited their parents’ return. In this follow-up, Abirached takes inspiration from French experimental writer and filmmaker Georges Perec and forgoes a traditional narrative structure in favor of a catalog of childhood memories, almost all beginning with “I remember.” Her memories juxtapose mundane details, such as the “tchic” sound that cassette tapes made when shaken and the three layers that made up old Kit Kat wrappers, with haunting reminders of wartime, such as her brother’s shrapnel collection and the bullet holes in the family car. The black-and-white illustrations and inventive layouts ably convey the contrasts of the text. Abirached does not use tones or shading, but her ornate patterns soften the stark contrasts created by her bold lines and her frequent use of black to fill negative space. Taken together, her many memories create a distinct sense of time, place and emotion.
Meandering and experimental but surprisingly evocative. (Graphic memoir. 12 & up)