Part poignant cancer memoir and part humorous reflection on a motherless life, this debut graphic novel is extraordinarily comforting and engaging.
From before her mother's first oncology appointment through the stages of her cancer to the funeral, sitting shiva, and afterward, when she must try to make sense of her life as a motherless daughter, Tyler Feder tells her story in this graphic novel that is full of piercing--but also often funny--details. She shares the important post-death firsts, such as celebrating holidays without her mom, the utter despair of cleaning out her mom's closet, ending old traditions and starting new ones, and the sting of having the "I've got to tell Mom about this" instinct and not being able to act on it. This memoir, bracingly candid and sweetly humorous, is for anyone struggling with loss who just wants someone to get it.
After the author's mother dies of uterine cancer when her oldest daughter is 19, Feder (Unladylike for adults) finds herself longing for something "that cradles my grief without smothering it." Emphasizing the awkward and silly moments surrounding death, she has created the book she wanted to read. Her mom "wasn't some sad sack in a sickbed waiting to die (even when she WAS a sad sack in a sickbed waiting to die)," nor was she a saint, and Feder brings her meaningfully to life. In one of many sweetly evocative scenes, she recalls the intimate surprise of knowing immediately which font her creative mother would have wanted on her own funeral pamphlets. Feder's simple art features light pink backgrounds, a diverse cast of supporting characters, and details that make the story feel real (covered mirrors during the shivah, for example). The so-called pity party is illustrated in charming family scenes and flights of fancy such as "the app I wish existed: Dead Mom" ("Look up any movie to find out if the mom dies in it!"). Until that app exists, this book offers a wealth of perspective about coping with grief. Ages 12 up.