Lighter than my Shadow: A quiet and beautiful punch to the heart
Some novels have to be broken into pieces in order to remain emotionally healthy. I remember reading a Henry Rollin's poetry book called 'To see a grown man cry', which tore at me a bit and I could only read a handful of pages at a time before taking a break; it was raw and impacting. Katie Green's graphic novel 'Lighter than my Shadow' held the same impact. It was well drawn and emotionally charged, fairly depressing but honest and real.
As with Rollin's poetry, 'Lighter than my Shadow' was immensely beautiful, worth the pain and effort to consume. They were both a punch to the heart that I had to consume in sections to refrain from being bruised.
- Lighter than my Shadow (Katie Green)
- 516 pages
- Lion Forge
- ISBN-10: 1941302416
- ISBN-13: 978-1941302415
Pick up a copy and donate it to your local or school library.
The graphic memoir genre has been growing in size over the last few years as very talented people with very interesting histories recognize the value of the presentation. Green's 'Lighter than my Shadow' fits easily into the accepting graphic format and discusses very candidly the topics of Anorexia, Binge eating, and abuse.
As memoir alludes, the point of view in this work is that of a younger Katie Green, starting with her early school years and following her through college. She battles confusing body perceptions, social pressures, and the impact of these things on her personal perception of self. She is frequently told her view of the world is inferior by people who do not try to understand.
The story hurt to read. It was concise and as outsiders looking in, we can see problems removed from emotion. We are able to pick up on the social queues and foreshadowing that time muffles and blurs when someone is experiencing it first hand.
Green's artwork was stunning, keeping several elements simplistic yet emotive (such as facial features), focusing instead on the depth of universe and backgrounds. Katie has a solid representation of her internal struggles in the form of a looming black cloud over her head. The cloud begins to form when she dwells on mean phrases yelled at her by schoolboys. The internal monologue gets louder and more forceful as she gets older and further into troubling habits, splitting her in two in jagged rips. The black cloud gets larger and louder as well, blotting out all other things. Her insatiable compensating Binge hunger is represented by an ever-growing mouth in her stomach which consumes the universe at one point.
The book is not without fault, though to be clear the the faults are NOT with the artwork or the story. There is an element of the written descriptions which were sometimes a bit confusing. Mental thoughts that are unspoken are presented exactly the same as speech bubbles for vocal conversations. The difference is only a slightly dotted line rather than a curved solid. If not precisely viewed, these sometimes are missed or easily read as solid. Because of this, there was a minor amount of re-reading needed to ensure that complex sections were fully understood.
While the subject matter of this book requires some nudity, it should be noted that the story and art might not be appropriate for all age groups.
This graphic novel was presented for review purposes by the publisher. I can actually see them in my mind's eye sitting in dark rooms with bright futuristic antigravity chairs and legal pads, plotting how to earn extra airline miles by putting office donut purchases on their personal credit cards. The folks in marketing and order fulfillment are surely grateful for the pastries, but they know they are pawns in a 1% gain scheme. I am not influenced by such schemes and can advise that this review was likewise not influenced. I do love free donuts though.
Additional Art samples (pages 156-159 of the book)