A Love Letter to Lucy Knisley
It’s no secret that I love graphic novels and it’s also no secret that I love graphic novels written by, illustrated by, and/or representing strong women. You are what you read. When I branched out from my usual fiction comics and read Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley back in 2015, it began not only my love affair with the graphic memoir, but also with her graphic memoirs.
Starting in 2007 with her travel memoir, French Milk, Lucy Knisely has gone on to write and illustrate some great graphic novels about journeys. I say the term “journeys” broadly, because her work covers everything from literal journeys (like traveling to France with her Mom, a book tour through Europe, a cruise with her grandparents), but also, journeys through life’s events and relationships that anyone can relate to (family relationships, romantic relationships, aging family members, our relationship to food). What I love most about her work is she shares these journeys with her readers in such a relatable way – I have never traveled through Europe on a book tour, but I don’t need to do that to know that sometimes relationships just don’t work out and are not meant to. I don’t need to have a New York City catering background to appreciate good meals or how my memories can be tied to food. These are just the lenses of experience she uses to tell her stories about things that apply to us all. She does not shy away from including all the tough parts that come with these experiences and whomever they include. She includes you in her inner dialogue and the frames of mind that each situation puts her in. In reading her work you get to know not only her but her parents, her friends, her boyfriend now husband, her cat, her child – she does not shy away from you, her reader. The more of her work you read, the more you feel like you’re having a conversation with an acquaintance who is quickly becoming a close friend.
Since 2015, I have read all her graphic memoirs and have found many things to relate to in each one, despite the topic or my lack of similar experience. In her latest graphic memoir, Kid Gloves: Nine Months of Careful Chaos, she chronicles her pregnancy but also her relationship to it in such a candid way – through her efforts to conceive, her miscarriage, pregnancy itself, societal expectations and pressures, hormones, and changing relationships. It is scary, heartbreaking, hopeful, and hilarious. You are on this pregnancy and childbirth journey with her – wonderfully interesting or woefully archaic pregnancy facts included.
Gabe is a Youth Services Library Assistant at our Bainbridge Branch. She is currently reading Saga Volume 8 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples.