Lenni Reviews: “Everything Is OK” by Debbie Tung

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review. Trigger warning for anxiety and depression.

This graphic novel is an exploration of how the author recognized their mental illness and her work in dealing with them so she can start to love herself.

The simple art style packs a real punch when expressing the feelings and thoughts of the author and I found it all very relatable and easy to understand. It has an overall positive message without sounding preachy. It also stresses that dealing with mental illness is not a linear process. A great read if you’re struggling and need some hope or if someone in your life is facing similar issues. 5 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Down to the Bone: A Leukemia Story” by Catherine Pioli

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review. Trigger warning for leukemia.

In this graphic biography in a narrative format, Catherine is diagnosed with acute leukemia and follows a course of intense treatments and testing; putting her body through hell in order to fight the disease.

This is very detailed when it comes to exactly what acute leukemia is, what the treatments are, and how it affects Catherine’s body. While the technical parts feel laggy, the clean expressive art style is perfect as it shows the side effects and full range of emotions Catherine goes through. She handles it all with real positivity, humor, and wit. Highly recommended but it’s an emotional read. 4.9 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Queen of Snails: A Graphic Memoir” by Maureen Burdock

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review. Trigger warning for child abuse.

After being forced to move from Germany to the American Midwest, Maureen feels alone with a hyper religious mother and distant grandmother. This graphic novel is the author looking back on her traumatic childhood.

I love the art; the subdued colors with mostly black and white drawings make for a soothing look despite the somber subject matter. Maureen’s past and how it influenced her upbringing is complicated and sad but it is beautifully expressed in this book. Everything about it radiates of someone trying to deal with the weight of those who came before her and the crap she had to deal with on your own. It can be hard to read but I found it was worth it. 4.5 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “The Pass” by Espé & J.T. Mahany

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review. Trigger warning for childhood disease.

Camille and Bastien just had their second child and are of course overjoyed at the new arrival. But as time goes on, they discover the baby has severe heart defects and has to go through a long series of medical treatments.

Based on real events, this graphic novel shows the parents desperately trying to find solutions and the strain it has on their marriage, their first child, and even their grand parents. The art is gorgeous, especially when the parents hear what’s wrong and the doctors are describing what needs to be done and the risks. It’s overall hopeful since everyone tries their best to go through this painful and frightening situation. 4 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Gay Giant” by Gabriel Ebensperger

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and is suggested for mature readers.

This is Gabriel Ebensperger’s autobiographical account of being gay as a kid growing up in Chile. This is short and sweet, relying on some unique art to convey some complex adolescent feelings. Given it’s length it doesn’t quite rise to feeling complete. It’s a little rushed but it feels odd to say “Excuse me, sir, your unique feelings and life experiences aren’t paced well.” These are his stories that he’s sharing with is and he can share them however he wants. It does a great job of expressing the confusion, fear, and conflict of coming to terms with your identity. I think an older teenager or young adult would appreciate this but there is some nudity. Nothing overly explicit. 3.9 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “The Stars of History: Marilyn Monroe” by Bernard Swysen, Paty Christian

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review.

This graphic novel is a fast-paced biography of Marilyn Monroe starting from birth until her untimely death.

And by fast-paced, I mean very, VERY rushed account of her life. I like the art style for the expressive faces but the body proportions are iffy in places; like all of a sudden someone will have a HUGE behind or look like their back is broken. Unlike something like Irena – a biographical comic that is entertaining and detailed enough to act as a jumping-off point for further research – this book is more like a cliff-notes of a real biography. It’s ok but superficial. I think it should have taken more time to really dig deep but maybe they had page constraints. 3.5 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Irena: Life After the Ghetto” by Jean-David Morvan, Séverine Tréfouël & David Evrard

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review.

This volume follows Irena as she continues to help children and others as the war winds down; acting as  a nurse to help injured people.

This is still a great series highlighting the bravery of a woman who just wanted to do the right thing during horrible times. Everything is handled tastefully and it’s really inspiring. I think Irena would like this series if she could see it. 5 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Kusama: The Graphic Novel” by Elisa Macellari

*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and is recommended for mature readers.

This graphic memoir of Yayoi Kusama, an artist who used painting to deal with and express her mental issues. It’s a breezy book, giving broad information at a fast pace. It’s a beautiful introduction to Kusama’s life and art. A longer book would have dived deeper but you understand who she is and why she loves art so much.

Not knowing much about Kusama myself, I felt satisfied by what I learned about her from this book. You can tell a lot of love went into the art and even if you aren’t into is, its worth checking out. 3.9 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Come Home, Indio” by Jim Terry

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review

This graphic novel is the memoir of Native American Jim Terry, as he grows through his childhood with alcoholic parents, growing up to struggle with alcoholism himself, his identity in the Native American community, and losing his parents.

Despite it being pretty depressing, this is a great memoir with amazing art that sets the mood well. It’s unflinchingly honest and raw, leaving you with a hopeful note at the end. If you’re into graphic memoirs, this is a unique story. 4 out of 5.

Lenni Reviews: “Spellbound: A Graphic Memoir” by Bishakh Kumar Som

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review.

This memoir tells the story of a transgender woman Bishakh, who quits her job to write and create graphic novels. We follow her through her typical day interspersed with flashbacks of her parents and life in college.

I wanted to like this. I wanted to be impressed with Bishakh’s life story, chasing her dream of being a graphic artist and making a living off her art but my ARC copy was so small the font chosen for all the text was PAINFUL to read. Nearly impossible in some parts so I wasn’t able to get the full effect of the story. I may have to revisit this book once I can get my hands on a print copy. I doubt the final product will have that quality.

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