Reviewed by Rosemarie Leenerts, Library Assistant
Graphic novels, being a blend of words and pictures, have a way of rousing emotions prose alone cannot. Such is the case with Rosalie Lightning, a 2016 graphic memoir written and illustrated by award-winner Tom Hart, about a man who, along with his wife, must pick up the pieces of his life after his toddler daughter, Rosalie, dies.
Rosalie loves painting with watercolors, taking bubble baths, and having the same books read over and over to her. She enjoys taking walks, spotting birds, and watching familiar movies. One night she experiences what appears to be a mild illness and perishes without warning. In the memoir, Hart does not hold back on the anguish he feels reliving the memories surrounding Rosalie’s death in the weeks and months that follow. What makes the reader feel Hart’s pain so deeply is how he portrays Rosalie as, on the one hand, unique and special, and yet, on the other, so much like many other children her age, evoking in the reader a “there but for the grace of God, go I” feeling.
How a parent goes on with life after losing a nearly two-year-old full of joy is not easy to put into words, but Hart does so, with his illustrations adding a deeper layer to their meaning. It is impossible to read Hart’s graphic novel without being moved—sometimes to tears—and then taking away from it a profound understanding of the pain parents feel when a child suddenly passes, as well as a greater appreciation for the children of our own.
Graphic Novels at Herrick Library
Herrick Library now offers a collection of medical graphic novels on an array of subjects, including the following:
- Cancer Vixen: A True Story by Marisa Acocella Marchetto: The author, a cartoonist, chronicles her nearly yearlong struggle with breast cancer, from finding the first lump through diagnosis and cure.
- Epileptic by David B.: An autobiography of a young man growing up with an epileptic brother.
- I(v)F: A Memoir of Infertility by Sheila Alexander: Details the author’s 407-day journey through in vitro fertilization.
- Imagine Wanting Only This by Kristen Radtke: The author examines her family’s experiences with heart disease.
- In Vitro by William Roy: Newlyweds explore in vitro fertilization as a way to have a child.
- Lighter than My Shadow by Katie Green: The author explains her struggle and recovery from eating disorders.
- Little Josephine: Memory in Pieces by Valerie Villieu and Raphael Sarfati: A firsthand account of friendship between an Alzheimer’s patient and her visiting nurse.
- Mom’s Cancer by Brian Fies: A son recounts his mother’s journey through lung cancer and its toll on the entire family.
- Queer: A Graphic History by Meg-John Barker and Julia Scheele: A witty nonfiction account of the histories of queer thought and LGBTQ+ action.
- A Quick & Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns by Archie Bongiovanni and Tristan Jimerson: An explanation of LGBTQ+ pronouns and why they matter.
- Rosalie Lightning: A Graphic Memoir by Tom Hart: A touching account of the untimely death of the author’s toddler daughter and the healing that follows.
- Rx: A Graphic Memoir by Rachel Lindsay: A young woman’s frenzied life through bipolar disorder and recovery and her perceptions of the treatment of mental illness.
- Tangles: A Story about Alzheimer’s, My Mother, and Me by Sarah Leavitt: A memoir of a woman who witnesses her mother’s changes as she progresses through Alzheimer’s disease.
- Trauma Is Really Strange by Steve Haines and Sophie Standing: An illustration of what goes on in the mind of someone diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
- With the Light: Raising an Autistic Child (Volume 1) by Keiko Tobe: A young mother must cope with her child’s autism.
- Bug Boys by Laura Knetzger: Two bug friends learn about the science of the world around them and the meaning of friendship.
- Camp by Kayla Miller: How summer camp reunites and divides two friends with differing personalities.
- Consent (for Kids!): Boundaries, Respect, and Being in Charge of You by Rachel Brian: A guide for kids on consent, boundaries, bodily autonomy, and how to respect oneself and others.
- El Deafo by Cece Bell: A memoir about growing up hearing impaired.
- Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier: A popular fictional graphic novel about an older sister who must put aside her fears for the sake of her younger sister, who has cystic fibrosis.
- Guts by Raina Telgemeier: Based on the author’s life, the main character must manage her worries and their physical consequences in order to conquer her fears.
- Sunny Side Up by Jennifer Holm and Matthew Holm: Sunny’s family moves to Florida because of a secret surrounding one member’s substance abuse.
- This Was Our Pact by Ryan Andrews: A group of boys go on an adventure and make unexpected friendships along the way.
Rosalie Lightning and all the books in the list are available to reserve for curbside pickup from Herrick Library. Check one out in honor of Comic-Con. To make a reservation for these titles or any other:
- Place a hold at the library catalog: https://tinyurl.com/herrick-catalog,
- Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Or call 619-825-5010