February 23, 2017


Synopsis: This memoir of growing up in 1980s Turkey is a fascinating compare-and-contrast with the experience of growing up in America--I can't even say the West, because Turkey has long been a cultural crossroads between what we think of as West and East, between Europe and Asia. It was also one of my personal favorites from the YA Graphic Novels shortlist for Cybils this past year, and I was happy to see it's currently an Amazon bestseller in Teen and Young Adult Artist Biographies (not a category I was previously aware of, but there you go).

Observations: This memoir of growing up contains many relatable elements for non-Turkish readers—windows and mirrors are both available here, and the blend of new and recognizable will intrigue most readers who are also going through that journey of finding their own voices and facing family and societal obstacles. It's got plenty of humor, too, although a memoir about finding your calling isn't going to be everyone's cup of tea.

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Like Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, this is a valuable glimpse into growing up in a society that struggles between a long cultural history and Westernization, with competing directives for women growing up in that environment. Within that, the character proves to be a unique voice in and of herself, but also standing in for anyone struggling to find their own path among competing inner and outer voices. For its cultural diversity, its deceptive simplicity, and the thematic content, for me this scores high on literary merit (one of the Cybils criteria along with kid appeal).

This is one of my favorites of the Cybils shortlist for sheer artistry—the author is so well versed in traditional comic-book conventions that she can easily toy with them (removing panel borders, inserting art that meanders across the page) without sacrificing ease of readability. Characters were easy to distinguish and emotionally easy to "read," and the use of collage elements was outstanding.

Conclusion: Lots of readers, especially those with a creative bent, will relate to this story of not quite fitting in and finding the courage to be yourself in the face of external pressures--daring to disappoint those who might have wanted something different.

I received my copy of this book courtesy of my library. You can find DARE TO DISAPPOINT: GROWING UP IN TURKEY by Ozge Samanci at an online e-tailer, or at a real life, independent bookstore near you!

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