Top Shelf Comics. Feb. 2021. 224p. tr. from French by Edward Gauvin . pap. $19.99. ISBN 9781603094818.
Gr 10 Up–Durand offers a poignant account of her struggle with epilepsy in her early 20s, the brain surgeries required to excise the tumor responsible, and a grueling recovery that left her disabled for years. At age 24, Judith (as Durand refers to herself; she states that she has “hidden behind my middle name to write my own story”) sought help for seizures that often left her lashing out in anger. The story’s power lies in the author’s ability to interweave her own shaky consciousness with an explication of her medical journey; she describes not remembering exactly what was happening and relying on her family to fill in her gaps in memory, in particular, her mother’s recollections of caring for Judith. The mental toll of epilepsy and brain surgery was devastating, but Judith’s recovery, conveyed with tender detail, feels miraculous, even as we see all its pieces fall into place. Visually, the design feels almost cute—deliberately sequential, captioned intermittently in cursive script, peopled with expressive, minimalist characters, like a group of tiny doctors scaling her skull. However, jagged, intermittent visual terrors representing her lack of mental control are a jarring reminder of her internal reality. Judith and her family are white and French.
VERDICT A feat of the graphic medicine genre, capturing the intersection of personal experience of illness with the technical aspects of medical treatment. A superb addition that emotionally mature readers will find compelling.

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