And God said: Let there be light, and there was light…and it was good.
And then one day, God replaced the light with darkness.
We Are On Our Own is a graphic novel memoir about Katin’s childhood (though she names herself Lisa in the book). It is about both her physical and spiritual struggles. When Lisa was very young, she and her mother had to leave Budapest in disguise to escape the Nazis. The book follows them on their journey into Russia, where they come across both good people and bad people, and are constantly trying to escape one harm or another. Though the reader sees what is happening – rape, death, abortion, starvation, etc – the narrative is from the perspective of the child, with all the ignorance and innocence of childhood. But even with all the ignorance and innocence of childhood, Lisa is not protected from pain and loss, and she begins to question her faith in God. Interspersed throughout the story are scenes from Lisa’s adulthood, particularly dealing with identity according to ethnic and religious heritage (like her father, she becomes an atheist Jew).
For the last week, I’ve been slowly reading The Diary of Anne Frank, and this book made a great companion novel. The artwork was stunning, and the story was beautiful. The themes were laid out so lightly that it didn’t feel preachy or pushy. The light tone didn’t lessen the impact of the book, though. I will likely reread it before giving it back the library.