The Tenderness of Stones

NYRC. Sept. 2019. 144p. ISBN 9781681372983. $32.95. Rated: Teen+. literary
One beautiful spring day, a family buries one of their father’s lungs. The organ is so large that it takes three people to carry it. The family is initially undisturbed, as they assume this is some kind of prank their father is playing on them—after all, he attends the funeral in good spirits. A few days later, a group of men dressed in white appears and instructs the family to remove their father’s nose. Next, they declare that forthwith he must pull his remaining lung behind him in a cart. As soon as the father adjusts to this burden, his mouth is taken away and stored in a chest. As the father becomes increasingly helpless, his family struggles with feeling as though caring for him is turning them into extensions of his body, robbing them of their own identities. Fayolle (In Pieces) juxtaposes lyrical narration with gorgeous illustration in this brilliant and ingeniously crafted depiction of a family struggling with the decline and impending demise of a parent.
VERDICT A profoundly moving and curiously playful meditation on the complex swirl of emotions and sense of having entered a surreal world often experienced by caregivers. [Previewed in Ingrid Bohnenkamp’s Graphic Novel Spotlight, “Mass Appeal,” LJ 6/19.]

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