Graphic Novel Review | El Deafo by Cece Bell

El Deafo Book Review Paige's PagesTITLE: El Deafo
AUTHOR
: Cece Bell
PUBLISHER
: Harry N. Abrams
RELEASE DATE
: September 2, 2014
GENRE
: Junior Graphic Novel, Memoir
PAGE COUNT
: 233


El Deafo is an utterly adorable Own Voices  graphic novel based on author Cece Bell’s own childhood experience of severe deafness.  One of the many wonderful things about this book is how it avoids representing deafness as a disability.  Although Cece faces plenty of adversity in the form of loneliness, being misunderstood, and toxic friends, she ultimately uses her Phonic Ear hearing aid as a superpower to become the hero, El Deafo.  This is a universally relatable and informative story for junior and middle grade readers that inspires compassion and respect for differently-abled people. Continue reading

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Double Review | Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic / Are You My Mother? A Comic Drama by Alison Bechdel

Alison Bechdel is an iconic cartoonist well-known for her comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For.  Her two graphic memoirs apply a psychoanalytical lens to her stranger-than-fiction childhood to paint an intricate portrait of her parents.  Considering how the characters and themes link the two narratives, they are better when read together!  These memoirs will fascinate lovers of literature with references to great writers, and engross readers who enjoy beautifully structured family biographies.  Her perceptiveness left me in awe.

Bechdel’s art is always worth taking the time to appreciate.  She uses only one colour (greyish green in Fun Home and red in Are You My Mother?) as a wash over her greyscale illustrations.  I was fixated admiring the detail in every frame, and how text and art support each other to articulate meaning more powerfully than either could alone.

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Graphic Memoir Review | Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me by Ellen Forney

Marbles by Ellen Forney Review Paige's pagesTITLE: Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me
AUTHOR & ARTIST
: Ellen Forney
PUBLISHER
: Avery
RELEASE DATE
: November 6, 2012
GENRE
: Adult Graphic Memoir
PAGE COUNT
: 256


In this intimate and informative graphic memoir, comic artist Ellen Forney tells her story of battling bipolar disorder.  Along the way, she delves into the origins and issues of the “crazy artist” stereotype, and rewrites her own identity as a creator with mental illness.  Most of all, Marbles is for readers who want insight into the long-term challenges of living with bipolar disorder.  
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Book Review | The Camera My Mother Gave Me by Susanna Kaysen

the-camera-my-mother-gave-me-review-paiges-pagesTITLE: The Camera My Mother Gave Me
AUTHOR: Susanna Kaysen
PUBLISHER: Knopf
RELEASE DATE: October 2, 2001
GENRE: Nonfiction, Memoir
PAGE COUNT: 149


In this soul-bearing memoir by the author of Girl, Interrupted, Susanna Kaysen chronicles her relationship with her vagina.  When this under-appreciated part of her anatomy starts to hurt, destroying her sex life, her vagina suddenly becomes the centre of her universe.  Susanna is forced to analyse her new relationships with emotional abuse and chronic pain, and how all this impacts her identity as a woman… in a nutshell, everything you’re not supposed to talk about in public.
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#IWD2017 Double Review | The Fictional Woman / Speaking Out: A 21st-Century Handbook for Women and Girls by Tara Moss

Using her wealth of experience as an international model, bestselling crime novelist, human rights activist, and mother, Tara Moss equips readers to confront gender inequality in every aspect of society.  If The Fictional Woman is the ultimate “beginner’s guide” to gender inequality, then Speaking Out is your “travelling companion”.  Through immersive research and intimate wisdom, this dynamic duo will educate and empower.  

I listened to The Fictional Woman and Speaking Out as audio books, and now have a HUGE crush on Tara Moss’s voice.  As a strong and confident speaker, her warmth and wisdom bursts through her rich tone.  Hearing the author read her own work is intimate, and sometimes unearthed my own pain.  Although I plan to buy all my female friends and family members these books for Christmas, I know I’ll be returning to the audio versions.

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Book Review | Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out edited by Susan Kuklin

beyond-magenta-book-review-paiges-pagesTITLE: Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out
EDITOR & PHOTOGRAPHER: Susan Kuklin
PUBLISHER: Candlewick Press
RELEASE DATE: February 11, 2014
GENRE: Young Adult Nonfiction, LGBTQIA
PAGE COUNT: 192


Through six short memoirs transcribed from interviews, Beyond Magenta explores what it’s like to come of age as a trans-spectrum teen.  A crucial lesson this book teaches is to see gender and sexuality as something with infinite colourful shades.  To really know someone’s story, you have to be humble and open-hearted enough to listen to them tell it in their own words.
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Book Review | Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation edited by Kate Bornstein & S. Bear Bergman

gender-outlaws-the-next-generation-review-paiges-pagesTITLE: Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation
EDITORS: Kate Bornstein & S. Bear Bergman
PUBLISHER: Seal Press
RELEASE DATE: August 21, 2010
GENRE: Nonfiction, Memoir, LGBTQI+
PAGE COUNT: 304


The second gender-bending anthology edited by Kate Bornstein brings together an extraordinary range of trans-spectrum creators.  This book celebrates diverse LGBTQI+ experiences, while encouraging readers to take a long, hard look at their society’s gender laws.  

Instead of looking to the binaries for answers – male/female, femininity/masculinity, sex/gender – I’ve decided to take my body back for myself – for me to shape, show off, love and dress and play.  But above all, for me to name – Transliteration by Francisco Fernández

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Book Review | Coming of Age: Growing Up Muslim in Australia Edited by Amra Pajalic & Demet Divaroren

coming-of-age-book-review-paiges-pagesTITLE: Coming of Age: Growing Up Muslim in Australia
EDITORS: Amra Pajalic and Demet Divaroren
PUBLISHER: Allen & Unwin
RELEASE DATE: February 2014
GENRE: Junior Nonfiction, Religion
PAGE COUNT: 200


This collection of short memoirs shares the challenges of growing up Muslim in Australia.  I love that the focus of Coming of Age is on the struggles of being a young person, irrespective of religion.  This makes the authors relatable to junior readers everywhere.  

I wondered if there were going to be girls like me from the Middle East.  Would there be any Muslim students in my class?  And how many of them would have just arrived in Australia as I had?  Would they speak Arabic like me?  Would I be able to keep up with the schoolwork?  Would I make friends? – Muslim Footprint by Arwa El Masri page 84 Continue reading

Book Review | Walking Towards Ourselves: Indian Women Tell Their Stories edited by Catriona Mitchell

walking-towards-ourselves-book-review-paiges-pagesTITLE: Walking Towards Ourselves: Indian Women Tell Their Stories
EDITOR: Catriona Mitchell
PUBLISHER: Hardie Grant Publishing
RELEASE DATE: April 16, 2016
GENRE: Nonfiction, Memoir, Politics
PAGE COUNT: 272


In one of the world’s most patriarchal societies, Indian women break their silence by sharing their most intimate stories.  This powerful collection features diverse experiences of womanhood and motherhood in India, to educate and empower with raw honesty.  Walking Towards Ourselves is the most moving and enriching book I’ve had the privilege to read this year.

India is a land where women are worshipped as goddesses … But the real strength of Indian women, those unsung heroines who hold up more than half the sky, comes from the disadvantaged, the indigent and marginalised, the often-silenced majority who till the soil, graze their cattle, work in menial domestic jobs, and look after and sustain their immediate and extended families – Foreword by Namita Gokhale page 4 Continue reading