Kid Gloves: Nine Months of Careful Chaos

illus. by Lucy Knisley. 256p. further reading. photos. First Second. Feb. 2019. pap. $19.99. ISBN 9781626728080.
The subtitle to Knisley's latest autobiographical comic is "Nine Months of Careful Chaos." But her experiences with reproductive health began in high school. As a teen, Lucy volunteered at a Planned Parenthood peer-to-peer educator program and tried numerous birth control methods. Fast-forward nearly a decade later, and she and her husband John are ready to have a kid, but are finding it much harder than her younger self might have thought. After her first miscarriage and laparoscopic surgery to adjust the shape of her uterus, she finally gets pregnant. Next comes intense nausea, unsolicited advice from strangers, and fears that motherhood will affect her work. Finally, while Lucy is in labor, previously undiagnosed eclampsia leaves her unconscious for two days. As always, Knisley's illustrations are cheerful and colorful and her writing witty, but this powerful narrative doesn't shy away from bleak and terrifying moments. In one especially moving scene, John describes seeing his wife ailing in the hospital. As Lucy regains consciousness, the colors fade in from black-and-white sketches to a color frame of a recovering Lucy holding her new baby. The author also explores the often disturbing treatment that pregnant women have endured throughout history, stressing that all women should have control over their bodies.
VERDICT Knisley's nuanced look at pregnancy and her message of bodily autonomy will resonate with teens, especially those who appreciated the graphic anthology Mine!

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