An honest and personal journey through a trans youth.

WELCOME TO ST. HELL

MY TRANS TEEN MISADVENTURE

A trans adult looks back at his early years.

Cartoonist Hancox follows a recognizable trans memoir format in this brief graphic novel. From a childhood of hating dolls and dresses to a goth adolescence, the horrors of puberty, and coming out first as a lesbian and then as a trans man, the author often inserts his White, bearded, baseball-capped adult self into fraught scenes to assure his younger self that everything will turn out all right. The author grew up in the small British town of St. Helens, and the dialogue and narration are littered with regional slang, some of which sets the scene, adding cultural flavor, and some of which becomes repetitive and distracting. While there’s no shortage of angst and self-loathing (including brief, matter-of-fact, but honest descriptions of his eating and exercise disorders), this is overall a positive account, as Hancox’s family reacts supportively both times he comes out, and he’s able to access medical transition at a relatively early age. He also maintains his old friendships. There’s little mention of other trans people outside of a few YouTube videos. While the story is basic, the emotionally brutal yet stripped-down art helps create immediacy and intimacy. Hancox describes the process of writing this book as therapeutic, and readers might find it so as well.

An honest and personal journey through a trans youth. (Graphic memoir. 13-18)

Pub Date: July 19, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-82444-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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A powerful reminder of a history that is all too timely today.

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THEY CALLED US ENEMY

A beautifully heart-wrenching graphic-novel adaptation of actor and activist Takei’s (Lions and Tigers and Bears, 2013, etc.) childhood experience of incarceration in a World War II camp for Japanese Americans.

Takei had not yet started school when he, his parents, and his younger siblings were forced to leave their home and report to the Santa Anita Racetrack for “processing and removal” due to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066. The creators smoothly and cleverly embed the historical context within which Takei’s family’s story takes place, allowing readers to simultaneously experience the daily humiliations that they suffered in the camps while providing readers with a broader understanding of the federal legislation, lawsuits, and actions which led to and maintained this injustice. The heroes who fought against this and provided support to and within the Japanese American community, such as Fred Korematsu, the 442nd Regiment, Herbert Nicholson, and the ACLU’s Wayne Collins, are also highlighted, but the focus always remains on the many sacrifices that Takei’s parents made to ensure the safety and survival of their family while shielding their children from knowing the depths of the hatred they faced and danger they were in. The creators also highlight the dangerous parallels between the hate speech, stereotyping, and legislation used against Japanese Americans and the trajectory of current events. Delicate grayscale illustrations effectively convey the intense emotions and the stark living conditions.

A powerful reminder of a history that is all too timely today. (Graphic memoir. 14-adult)

Pub Date: July 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-60309-450-4

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Top Shelf Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 5, 2019

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A truth-is-stranger-than-fiction story about a lost soul finding her way.

PASSPORT

Navigating high school is hard enough, let alone when your parents are CIA spies.

In this graphic memoir, U.S. citizen Glock shares the remarkable story of a childhood spent moving from country to country; abiding by strange, secretive rules; and the mystery of her parents’ occupations. By the time she reaches high school in an unspecified Central American nation—the sixth country she’s lived in—she’s begun to feel the weight of isolation and secrecy. After stealing a peek at a letter home to her parents from her older sister, who is attending college in the States, the pieces begin to fall into place. Normal teenage exploration and risk-taking, such as sneaking out to parties and flirtations with boys, feel different when you live and go to school behind locked gates and kidnapping is a real risk. This story, which was vetted by the CIA, follows the author from childhood to her eventual return to a home country that in many ways feels foreign. It considers the emotional impact of familial secrets and growing up between cultures. The soft illustrations in a palette of grays and peaches lend a nostalgic air, and Glock’s expressive faces speak volumes. This is a quiet, contemplative story that will leave readers yearning to know more and wondering what intriguing details were, of necessity, edited out. Glock and many classmates at her American school read as White; other characters are Central American locals.

A truth-is-stranger-than-fiction story about a lost soul finding her way. (Graphic memoir. 13-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 30, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-45898-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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