Do you know someone who’s going through a tough time? Someone who would appreciate hugs and advice… in the form of a gift book?
This colourful self-help comic, written and illustrated by Richy K. Chandler, is subtitled Comfort and Wisdom for When Your World Falls Apart. When I first looked through, I was a bit underwhelmed – there aren’t many pages and indeed there’s not much text. But I read it again, carefully. And then again. Then I realised that I really liked it. This book is quite different to anything I’d normally read, which is why it took me a while to process the flow of the narrative and to enjoy the message it conveys.
We follow the cartoon figure of a young woman. She’s in the clouds where it’s calm and bright, but an anchor weighs her down and she starts to fall. As she falls, a voice – the author, a therapist, a friend, the character’s own mind? – engages with her to help her feel better, accept her past, embrace her future and regain some control over her life. Towards the end of the book there are no words, just somewhat trippy pictures which represent the good and the bad stuff that life can throw at you, with our character sailing through it, not falling any more. I like the illustrations a lot, although I wonder why the character has no hands or feet (I suppose this could be symbolic of not being able to stop herself from falling). I also thought that maybe the title of What the Hell Just Happened?! wasn’t particularly catchy and wouldn’t have made me pick up the book.
In summary, this is a lovely gift book, suitable for adults and teens, which does indeed deliver its promise of comfort and wisdom.
Published on 21/08/18 by Singing Dragon, an imprint of Jessica Kingsley Publishers. See more info here. Many thanks to Vera Sugar of Singing Dragon for the printed book which was provided in exchange for an honest review.