Review: Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Diary Edited by Ari Folman, Illustrated by David Polonsky

The only graphic novelization of Anne Frank’s diary that has been authorized by the Anne Frank Foundation and that uses text from the diary–it will introduce a new generation of young readers to this classic of Holocaust literature.Anne Frank's Diary- The Graphic Diary 9-- bookspoilsThis one isn’t an easy one to quickly wrap my mind (or words) around. There’s so much to be said and done that it all sits so heavy on my heart. I’ll begin by mentioning that I received the opportunity to read the original Hebrew version of this book, courtesy of a lovely librarian at my local library.

And I’ll go on to admit that I struggled quite a lot with the start of this graphic diary. In particular, I had trouble with Anne Frank’s hurtful depiction of the eight people surrounding her, from those forced into hiding with her, as well as the disrespect targeted at her own family members. I was particularly struck when I read the page declaring, quite bluntly so, that she considered the relationship with her mother so unstable that she wouldn’t care if her mother died. It was one of the cruelest sayings, especially under their utterly dire circumstance. And then it rolled on to her nonstop ridicule of Mrs. Van Daan… And I couldn’t stand by idly reading about all the above, knowing that these are real people that died the most horrendous of deaths and cannot defend their honor; all that remains of them are these jarring depictions of their behavior under the most inhumane circumstances, and it was painful to read.

So I was relieved when Anne Frank acknowledged in later journey entries that her previous uncompromising points of view on her family was less than unfair. Empathy is key in familial discourse.

It’s true, she didn’t understand me, but I didn’t understand her either.

With that admission in mind, the book did a turning point for me, where I could finally feel myself growing more attached to Anne as a person, from finding a loyal companion in the blank pages of her notebook to seeing herself as an aspiring writer to capturing her rightful hate towards Nazi Germans (that depicts my own), assessing her self-awareness, which had me so enraptured while reading that it deserves to be shared:

In everything I do, I can watch myself as if I were a stranger. I can stand across from the everyday Anne and, without being biased or making excuses, watch what she’s doing, both the good and the bad. This self-awareness never leaves me, and every time I open my mouth, I think, ‘You should have said that differently’ or ‘That’s fine the way it is.’ I condemn myself in so many ways that I’m beginning to realize the truth of my Father’s adage: ‘Every child has to raise itself.’ Parents can only advise their children or point them in the right direction. Ultimately, people shape their own characters.

As well as her line on trying to do and be better: I know exactly how I’d like to be, how I am . . . on the inside. But unfortunately I’m only like that with myself.

There’s so much more to be said, but I’ll just share the pages that got it all right:Anne Frank's Diary- The Graphic Diary 1-- bookspoilsAnne Frank's Diary- The Graphic Diary 3-- bookspoils

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5/5 stars

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Diary, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!

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Review: Farm 54 by Galit Seliktar, Gilad Seliktar

The promise of having a collection of Jewish-Israeli short stories in graphic novel format was exactly what I was seeking.

Farm 54 is a collection of three semi-autobiographical stories addressing three important periods in the life of the protagonist, Noga, born at the start of the 1970’s and growing up in Israel’s rural periphery. Substitute Lifeguard (1981) finds her towards the end of her childhood as she experiences a family trauma, a blessing and a birthday. Spanish Perfume (1983) brings her to teenage in the wake of the First Lebanon War whilst Houses (1989) portrays her passage to adulthood and hence military service in the occupied territories.

Though for the most of my reading experience I wasn’t particularly engaged in the storyline, I found the last tale, centering around Noga entering her IDF service, to be such an eye-opener. There’s a lot I’ve yet to discover in the details of one’s IDF service, so Houses, in its brief page-time, delivered a lot of knowledge for me.

The graphic novel as a whole relies a lot on telling stories without words in the way of silent/wordless graphic novels; it made for plenty of poignant, quiet, and pondering moments to take in. But the true star of this show has got to be the art and its stroke of minimalism.Farm 54 1-- bookspoilsFarm 54 2-- bookspoilsFarm 54 3-- bookspoils

In the end, I was left with a sense of stillness in my mind that is hard to come by in books nowadays. I would love to pick up Tsav 8 by Gilad Seliktar next.

4/5 stars

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying Farm 54, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!

Review: Saga, Vol. 8 by Brian K. Vaughan

Saga, vol 8 7-- bookspoilsAfter the traumatic events of the War for Phang, Hazel, her parents, and their surviving companions embark on a life-changing adventure at the westernmost edge of the universe.

Trying to gather together my scattered thoughts regarding this newest volume in the Saga series is turning out to be rather hard, so I opted for making this bullet point list below:

(Spoilers from here.)

  • The start of the journey took us to Abortion Town, after the unfortunate events of the last volume, where solid commentary was present in the precarious situation.Saga, vol 8 1-- bookspoils
  • This lullaby tribute to our most iconic babysitter, Izabel:Saga, vol 8 2-- bookspoils
  • The emotional bond between Hazel and “make-believe” Kurti. This is what this volume was truly about: focusing on fleshing out character-based storylines, which is incidentally how I like my stories best. Saga, vol 8 5-- bookspoilsThis moment of impact… She’s maturing at a rapid pace.Saga, vol 8 3-- bookspoilsThis girl has known too much loss in her young life.
  • Which then leads me back to Alana having to suffer through her miscarriage; it was utterly hard-hitting. Ultimately, she’s one the most formidable and fearsome protagonists I’ve encountered in my reading of graphic novels.Saga, vol 8 6-- bookspoilsHazel’s narration throughout was particularly grounding.
  • And last but not least, I have to mention that the completion of this volume was spectacular. I love how everything came together and connected seamlessly. Plus, the gorgeous artwork by Fiona Staples that brings the world and characters within to life.Saga, vol 8 7-- bookspoils

4/5 stars

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying Saga, Vol 8, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!