Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Kid Gloves

Lucy Knisley is one of my favorite graphic novel creators, and I am a big fan of her prior graphic memoirs Relish, about her love affair with food, and Something New, about getting married. This book follows the progression of the classic song: first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby in a baby carriage. But Kid Gloves is a book that covers some wide ground, making it more than a simple graphic memoir. It contains a lot of medical information about pregnancy and pregnancy-adjacent topics like birth control and miscarriages, and those passages sit right alongside the biographical ones. In a way, it makes the book a little disjointed, as it hops from topic to topic, but it also makes it simultaneously useful, informative, evocative, and entertaining.
My wife and I have three children, and each one had a different story in terms of their birth. One of the things we've learned is that almost everyone who is a parent has a unique story about the conception and birth of a child, and those stories may or may not be instructive or informative. What I like about this book is that it talks frankly about having difficulties with conception, often accompanied by frustration and grief. It also delves deeply into the oft-stigmatized experience of miscarriages. It even shows how birthing can have its complications, and how the after-effects of childbirth can be varied and sometimes hazardous.

Knisley shares a lot about her life, and reading this book almost gives the feeling that the reader knows her, she is that intimate. I feel there is much here that can help a person or people struggling with aspects of becoming a parent in any number of ways. It shows that it is not always a simple, joyful, and easy path to parenthood. It does not sugar-coat the process, although it does tell its story with a lot of heart and humor.
The reviews of this book I have read leaned positive. Josh Kramer called it "a good read, full of pieces that work on their own while telling the story of Knisley’s pregnancy. It may be prone to tangents, but it’s very likely to have a real impact on readers." Publishers Weekly wrote, "Despite its tonal problems, the book is worth reading for Knisley’s fierce wit, strong point of view, and well-paced storytelling." Caitlin Rosberg opined, "While Knisley’s honesty about both the best and worst parts of pregnancy are compelling, what elevates the book to a must-read for those who want kids or love people who do is the context in which she places her personal experience."

Kid Gloves was published by First Second, and they offer a preview and much more here.

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