Roots by Tara O’Connor

Roots by Tara O'Connor

I loved the concept of Tara O’Connor’s Roots, and I appreciate her flowing line and art style, but the result was disappointing, in large part because I disagreed with the result. Which is weird to say about an autobiographical story, but that’s my main feeling after reading it (several times, since it turned out I’d bought a previously self-published version of the same story at a convention several years ago).

After an unhappy divorce, Tara is aimless and depressed. She decides, with crowdfunding aid, to visit Ireland to research her family. There, she falls in love again.

Roots by Tara O'Connor

That was the part I had trouble with. She’s understandably quite broken up about the loss of the future she thought she’d have, so I found it a little too convenient that, hey, the next guy is perfect for her. It just didn’t feel right to me. If this was a friend telling me a story, I’d try and caution her to be careful of rebounding so quickly.

And that changes the whole book. Instead of learning what it’s like to visit Ireland — little of the country is portrayed beyond buses and the insides of pubs — or her family background — some names and dates are included, but not as much as I hoped — what we get is pretty superficial, many pages focused on hanging out with her new boyfriend.

I like Tara’s style, with strong black lines outlining her figures, but I wish she’d spent more time on the setting (particularly historically), less on she and her new guy sitting around. She often draws a figure reacting to sights instead of drawing what’s seen, which makes it of less interest to the reader.

She later talks about feeling like her Kickstarter failed, as she hit “roadblock after roadblock” when trying to research her ancestors, but I find the next line more honest: “It’s clear I was, well, distracted while I was over there.” I’m glad she’s happy, but she’s right, this isn’t the book she set out to create, and the mismatch makes it, in my opinion, a failure.

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