"I cannot sleep unless I am surrounded by books."

Borges

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Mom's Cancer


Mom’s Cancer
Author: Brian Fies
Publisher: Abrams Image
ISBN: 0810958406

When freelance writer Brian Fies mother is diagnosed with both lung cancer and a brain tumor, he starts to document her struggles and what it does to the family as a whole. The result is this amazing little Eisner Award winning graphic novel. It’s done in comic book style and it’s just phenomenal. The storytelling is brutally honest, yet humorous and insightful. Each member of the family is pulled into the struggle against incredible odds and cancer, like most crises brings out both the best and the worst in a family.

Mom’s Cancer isn’t some overly sentimental cancer story. I was a bit hesitant to read it, thinking it was going to be a tear jerking sentimental story meant for a movie of the week. I was more than surprised at how personal the story was, at how it was gentle, honest and true without being sloppy. Fies doesn’t glorify his mother as would be the tendency of some. He keeps her honest. She smoked, she has trouble understanding what she’s going through and she frustrates the hell out of him sometimes. He also portrays the family in humorous and interesting ways. There’s a Kid Sis and Nurse Sis and each have their strengths and faults. There are very vivid visual metaphors for things in the book that I found especially compelling.

The artwork is clean and simple, yet detailed and emotive. The storyboard look and feel of the book really helps one to understand the scientific aspects of what is going on with the cancer cells. Very educational! I really enjoyed that part of the book as well. With the graphic format, Fies manages to get me to understand medical jargon which would normally be too boring for me to be interested in. Instead of being bored, I was fascinated, which is saying a lot for me.

If someone you know has cancer, this is a book for them. It’s educational, hopeful and humorous. I highly recommend it.

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