Zeina Abirached, author of the award-winning graphic novel A Game for Swallows, returns with a powerful collection of wartime memories.
Abirached was born in Lebanon in 1981. She grew up in Beirut as fighting between Christians and Muslims divided the city streets. Follow her past cars riddled with bullet holes, into taxi cabs that travel where buses refuse to go, and on outings to collect shrapnel from the sidewalk.
With striking black-and-white artwork, Abirached recalls the details of ordinary life inside a war zone.
As with Abirached's debut, A Game for Swallows, this b&w graphic memoir of growing up in Lebanon during that country's civil war invites comparison to Persepolis. Collecting memories introduced via the recurring phrase "I remember," Abirached's prose and artwork convey, with grace and humor, the way her family's life during the war shifted from mundane to ominous and back again. Her mother tired of getting her windshield replaced every time a shell hit, and she eventually drove without it. There was no water for showers, but an endless supply of cigarettes. Abirached's younger brother assembled a collection of shrapnel, and the author recalls watching the Olympics ("I remember Florence Griffith Joyner's nails"). When an attack forced Abirached, her schoolmates, and teachers to stay at school overnight, she realized that "our teachers were as scared as we were." In the middle of her account, Abirached abandons words and uses scratchy white lines on black pages to draw remembered moments of peace: a jar of olives, a swing, a coop full of chickens. Here and throughout Abirached shares (and readers feel) a loss that cannot be named. Ages 13 18.