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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

We Are On Our Own

The true story of a Jewish woman and her young daughter who flee their home in 1944 and spend the next year hiding in small villages, surviving however they can.

Sound like something you'd read? What if I told you it was a graphic novel?

A few months back I heard about the graphic novel We Are On Our Own by Miriam Katin and I knew I had to read it. Writing memoirs in graphic format seems to be "the thing to do" at the moment, have you noticed?

I thought this book would be fascinating and it surely was. The story is told simply but the black and white illustrations convey so much! I especially like how the author inserts a few colorful pages that depict her life as an adult; this provided a reprieve from the starkness of the rest of the book and also gave insight into the woman she grew to be.

In my experience, there are two types of Jewish memoirs that came out of WWII: those that say God does not exist, and those that say He is always there. Would you agree with that assessment? This book is one of the former. Miriam comes to believe that God is just a story for children and she teaches that to her own child later on. To me, that is the most heartbreaking part of the entire story.

This is only the 2nd graphic novel I've read and I highly recommend it. The story is fascinating, the illustrations grab your attention, and it is a very quick read (I finished in in one evening). Definitely a great intro into the world of graphic novels.

10 comments:

Ti said...

There is a lot of buzz right now over graphic novels. They seem to be gaining popularity by the minute. I have yet to read one!

thekea said...

ohhh I definitely want to read this!
thanks for the review :)

Amy said...

I completely agree about the WWII memoirs, and that loss in belief is what made Night such a hard book for me to read. I'd like to believe that my faith grows in hardship, but of course, I've never watched my life be destroyed as my family and friends are killed.

Great review, though...I may need to look for this at B&N.

Rebecca Reid said...

I'd never thought about that dichotomy in thinking about God. Very interesting. I tend to prefer less depressing books, but I may at some point read this.

Have you read Maus? That is another graphic novel memoir, written by the son (born years after the Holocaust). It was great.

I've only read three or four graphic novels, but I've enjoyed them.

Dave said...

For a Holocaust tale from another vantage point, try The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, a fast, but touching, read. Still, for my money, the most heart-rending portrayal is the Italian film, Life is Beautiful. It will make you laugh and cry.

Heather J. said...

ti & kea: I think you should try this one out - it was quite fascinating.

amy: I completely agree about Night. I found it hard to read for the same reasons. This one isn't as depressing as Night; there is still that sense of sadness, but the stories are very different.

rebecca: I've yet to read Maus but I do have it on my TBR list. I don't usually go for overly depressing books either (although I have read lots about the Holocaust); this one was sad, but not horribly sad ... if that makes sense. And there is some real joy in it too.

dave: I've heard about The Boy in the Striped Pajamas - I'll have to pick it up sometime. And I LOVE Life is Beautiful; it's a fantastic movie!

* said...

hi heather. i am very new to this blog thing, but i stumbled across yours and haven't been able to stop reading it. it inspired me to start my own.:)

as for graphic novels, i haven't read any, but i hear persepolis is fantastic. it is also a memoir.

anyway nice to kind of meet you.:)

~amy

LisaMM said...

THis sounds good and I'm going to look for it. I just read my first graphic novel this week (The Heartbreak Diet) and I really liked the experience!

Thanks for a great review!

Stephanie said...

I think I agree with your assessment of Holocaust memoirs. Either the people end up able to accept what happened to them (and believing in God), or they end up angry and bitter (and not believing in God). I can certainly understand how they might come upon the second point of view.

I have the graphic novel Persepolis on my list to read, that will be my first.

Nymeth said...

I keep reading amazing reviews of this one...I simply must get my hands on it!

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