Sunday, June 5, 2016

Staff Review: Displacement: A Travelogue by Lucy Knisley

Displacement: A Travelogue is the fourth* book from the autobiographical cartoonist Lucy Knisley, and it is my hands-down favorite.** I've been reading her comics since 2009***, and I've admired the way she's grown and expanded in her skills as an illustrator and as a storyteller. That she focuses her pen on her own life only adds to that sense of growth; inevitably, both she as author and I as reader have gained perspective and maturity over the years.

I've encountered readers who found it difficult to relate to her earlier works because of  her youth. That generational differences are part of the focus for Displacement might add appeal to readers outside of the "Millennial" label, especially those readers who might be hearing of her work for the first time after her recent Eisner nomination.

Click to enlarge
Displacement focuses on Lucy's experience accompanying her 90-something grandparents on a Caribbean cruise. Lucy is adrift in her mid-twenties, facing all the uncertainty of career and personal life, while her grandparents are experiencing the decline and loss of their twilight years. The change in roles and responsibilities in their relationship is an aspect that I found particularly meaningful in my own reading. There's a billboard I pass every time I drive to visit my parents showing a young girl with her parents, and then the same family thirty-forty years in the future with the phrase "Roles Change" and I have to grip the steering wheel a little harder for a mile or two.

My favorite element of the book were the passages Lucy illustrated from the diary her grandfather kept during World War II. This added a depth to the narrative, which, by the nature of a memoir, has the danger of falling too deeply into the author's own experience. These passages created a fuller image of her grandparents by giving us a glimpse into their lives when they were 20-somethings themselves. It certainly contributed to the fact that I was tearing up by the end of the book.

~Sarah, Adult Services

*not counting her self-published titles or anthologies she's contributed to

**to be fair, I'm only halfway through reading her most recent book, Something New

***Full disclosure, Lucy Knisley is part of my sister's extended social circle, to the extent that my sister appeared in a few of Lucy's online comics. We've met once or twice, but this was many years ago.

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