- Posted by Johanna on June 3, 2012 at 5:25 pm
- Category: Graphic Novel Reviews
- CREDITS: by Simone Lia
- PUBLISHER: Jonathan Cape; 14.99 GBP
I asked for a copy of this not-yet-published-in-the-US graphic novel because I thought it sounded like an intriguing take on chick lit in illustrated form. I was pleased by what I found, although it turned out to be something else altogether.
This autobiographical tale begins with Simone Lia being dumped. She feels like a spinster, although she’d like to be in a relationship, so since she’s Catholic, she asks God for help. His answers — which involve reassuring her of His presence, then sending her on an adventure to Australia — make up the rest of the book. This isn’t a “how I found love with a guy” story, but one about God’s love.
It’s refreshing to see a religious person portrayed in comics without them being a villain or an extremist. Even if you don’t agree with her beliefs or choices, it’s a rewarding read to follow her journey. I particularly liked seeing her spend time with modern nuns. Her friend Sister Mary Trinity provides some useful and practical advice, keeping her grounded in light of her more fanciful imaginings. As a result, Simone spends two weeks at the convent, seeking focus and guidance. I love graphic novels that show unusual places or experiences like this; it’s enjoyable reading about something I’ll never do and getting an idea of how it might feel.
It’s also a welcome reminder of how inspirational devoted believers can be, those who dedicate their lives to doing good and helping others. The nun makes visits to the homebound, sharing times when she most saw God in her life and bringing them comfort through worship. At that time, Simone notes how she was reminded of how fortunate she was, and I shared that emotion, trying to focus on what is truly important in life during difficult times of uncertainty.
The reader doesn’t have to share her beliefs to find her experiences encouraging. One mostly silent sequence, where Simone comes to terms with her presence among the nuns, is particularly reflective. It can be hard to be alone with yourself, to simply be who you are. Alternately, the book can be read in an anthropological fashion, learning about the traditions of Catholicism. She draws herself in Biblical times and hanging out with God, using the visuals of a comic to better illustrate her thoughts and search.
Simone draws in a flat style, blue-tinted in this book, that conveys her emotion while feeling very approachable. It’s also well suited for the nuns’ outfits. Readers of other popular graphic autobiographies, especially the extremely well-known Persepolis, will be comfortable with the approach. It’s deceptively simple, allowing readers to concentrate on what’s happening, not how it’s shown.
Her advice, as given to her by another sister, is simple and yet extraordinarily difficult: communicate with God, do works of charity, and take daily time for silence. It’s such a contrast to the priorities and progress of the world we live in. The title is a bit misleading, in that her wish for a spouse is only the starting point of a significant realization in her life.