Take What You CanCarry by Kevin C. Pyle is a graphic novel told in two parallel stories which inevitably and somewhat predictably converge.
One story is told in images only, influenced by the sumi-e style of traditional Japanese artwork. The story of Ken who is taken with his family to live in a relocation camp after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. This page out of American history seems to be less well-known than I expect because time and time again I find people saying they never knew that American citizens were removed from their homes with no due process, forced to live in sequestered and illegal circumstances, and eventually allowed to return to homes that were no longer available to them their families.
The second story is told in a more traditional graphic novel format with images and text. In this story Kyle has recently moved to a new neighborhood with his family and is making new friends, friends who may not have his best interests at heart. Kyle’s story begins in a moment of crisis before shifting into a back story.
The two stories of Ken and Kyle are paralleled thematically in surprising ways, as each feels trapped by their circumstances, adrift and seeking stability. That the two stories eventually merge does not come as a surprise but it is effective. As are the wordless images that tell Ken’s story which I feel is the stronger of the two.
This is a good graphic novel, one that will probably prove to be educational for some. Pyle’s audience is surely the young adult reader and I would imagine it finding a well-deserved place in a school library if not in classroom itself. A good story, well crafted, and quickly devoured.