Thursday, August 16, 2012

Drawing from Memory by Allen Say

Drawing from Memory by Allen Say is a graphic memoir interspersed with photographs, cultural and historical references, all telling a remarkable story of an artist who was still a boy when life invited him to take control of his circumstances and become a man.  He tells the story of his childhood with no apologies nor does he try to romanticize things.  Rather, he tells his story through images and words.

The author was born when Japan was at war with China and the violence of the world continued to escalate through World War II.  When his parents divorce, his mother strives to have her son and daughter with her.  When her son is old enough for school, she works tirelessly to provide the best education for him and moves him in with her own mother to ensure his future.

But Say has ideas of his own and when he is left more to himself than he could ever dream to be, he dares to approach one of his comic artists after being inspired by a story he read in a newspaper.

Of course, the reader knows that the young boy will grow up to be an artist because the evidence is right there on the page.  And yet his journey as an artist is so compelling that the book itself is impossible to put down.  The conclusion is especially remarkable as he is offered an opportunity that will force him to make a choice that will change his life, and possibly his future, erevocably.

I want to say so much more about this book but to do so would give too much away.  I ached for him and rejoiced at every triumph.  I had completely forgotten that I'd also read his wonderful book Grandfather's Journey.  The two books together are a treasure and I am only sorry that I didn't read them both at the same time.  I'll be looking to add these books to Bibi's bookshelf or, at the very least, borrow them from the library when she's older and can appreciate the stories Say tells in both words and images.

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