And Now I Spill the Family Secrets: An Illustrated Memoir

HarperOne. Apr. 2021. 288p. ISBN 9780063007444. pap. $18.99. GRAPHIC NOVELS
Kimball (Nature’s Wisdom: Coloring Our Beautiful World) investigates her family history and interrogates her own memories and emotional development in this compassionate, enthralling memoir. With her mother’s first suicide attempt on Mother’s Day 1988 as a focal point, Kimball moves back and forth in time to touch on her schizophrenic grandmother, the dissolution of her parents’ marriage, and her relationship with her siblings as adults, culminating in an examination of her older brother’s struggles with mental illness. Eschewing straightforward narration, Kimball employs illustrations of empty rooms, diagrams and blueprints, newspaper clippings, legal documents, and old photographs accompanied by word balloons and captions conveying snippets of conversation and commentary. In lesser hands these stylistic decisions may have resulted in an alienating sense of disorientation, but through unwavering honesty and sheer storytelling skill, Kimball creates an intimate portrait of the complicated, conflicting emotions that arise when one is confronted with a family member’s mental illness while highlighting how trauma reverberates across generations.
VERDICT An empathetic, uncommonly nuanced, and thoroughly brilliant family saga presented with real daring and true artistry.
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