A Child’s Life

Gloeckner. Phoebe. A Child’s Life and Other Stories. Berkeley: Frog, ltd., 2000.

Nothing could have prepared me for Gloeckner’s A Child’s Life. I don’t know what I was expecting – maybe something along the lines of Robert Louis Stevenson or Kate Greenaway. Something really benign and cute, perhaps. I was prepared to be bored. but sweetly so.

Not so. To put it bluntly, A Child’s Life is a visual assault that needs to happen. When there are news reports of sexual abuse, rape, incest, drugs either on television or the radio we viewers are shielded from what that really means. We allow our imaginations to blunt the sharp edges of reality. We cringe, but we don’t go there with the truth. Gloeckner doesn’t allow for this numbing of truth. With Gloeckner you don’t have permission to soften this horrific reality. As a graphic novel the pictures tell the stories of an abused childhood better than any words in a novel. In a word, it was painful. When I finished I had words of my own; words like harsh, gritty, shocking, tragic yet truthful rang in my ears.

Author Fact: If you pick up the 1583940286 version of A Child’s Life you will find hints that this is semi-autobiographical. Gloeckner denies it.

Book Trivia: In addition to being called semi-autobiographical, A Child’s Life was also once called “a how-to for pedophiles.”

BookLust Twist: From Book Lust in the chapter “Graphic Novels” (p 103).

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