When it comes to comics and graphic novels, I tend to be drawn to those on the nonfiction shelf. I find the format tends to make darker or complex topWhen it comes to comics and graphic novels, I tend to be drawn to those on the nonfiction shelf. I find the format tends to make darker or complex topics more accessible and personalized than a long nonfiction tome. So I was intrigued by Squarzoni’s comic, which is subtitled “a personal journey through the science”, when I was browsing the library’s comics section.
This book grew out of Squarzoni’s efforts to present the French president’s political platform in a graphic format and the realization that he was writing about a topic — climate change — that he knew very little about. His partner, Camille, insists that Squarzoni will end up writing an entire book on the subject as he begins researching what exactly “climate change” is and, well, turns out she was right.
The book becomes an interesting blend of Squarzoni’s research, interviews with scientists and policy makers, and struggle to reconcile what he learns with how he lives his life. He has a rather off-putting obsession with how a storyteller chooses to start a story and devotes a number of panels to this question, including several on the movies he’s Once he moves onto the actual topic of climate change, Squarzoni makes a connection between our consumer-based economy — that is, the fact that economic growth only comes from increasing consumption of goods — to the increase in greenhouse gases and the destruction of the environment worldwide. And, like many people, he ends up wrestling with how to adopt the solutions being advocated by those he interviews into his own life.
Some of the solutions — reducing energy consumption, refusing to drive large vehicles or adopt other behaviors he sees as imports from America — are ones he’s already doing while others require government policy to change or an individual to sacrifice a convenience of modern life. At one point, he is offered what sounds like a fantastic opportunity in Laos and turns it down because he cannot overcome the guilt he feels over flying given its contribution to greenhouse glasses. Two years later, he and Camille travel to Montana to visit the very glaciers disappearing because of climate change. It is just not reasonable to expect him to never travel again.
Squarzoni’s difficulty with reconciling macro-changes to his life on the micro-scale fostered a lot of apathy within me as I was reading the book and, unlike others on the topic before it, I didn’t finish the book feeling as though I could rush out and try to change the world. After all, there are only so many light bulbs one can change, reusable bags one can carry, or car trips one can switch for public transportation.
But it also is a refreshingly honest addition to the section of the library devoted to climate change. And Squarzoni’s book lends a lot of credibility both through this honesty — climate change science is hard to understand, climate change is hard to address given there is no one band-aid solution — and given its its ability to breakdown the complexities of the issue into easily digestible bits through interviews and beautiful ...more
Nineteen-year-old Aya lives in working-class city of Yopougon (also known as Yop City) of the Ivory Coast in 1978. Aya's father works for Solibra, a bNineteen-year-old Aya lives in working-class city of Yopougon (also known as Yop City) of the Ivory Coast in 1978. Aya's father works for Solibra, a beer company, and is determined to establish a match between the young son of his boss and his daughter.
As a studious young woman determined to become a doctor, Aya is neither interested in this match nor in the cousin of one of her closest friends. As such, much of the novel is devoted to the antics of Aya's two closest friends, Adjoua and Bintou, who enjoy dancing, sneaking out to the tables in the city center known as the Thousand Star Hotel to meet boys, and generally having a good time.
Focusing on Aya's friends and their lives rather than Aya herself seems like an odd choice given that Aya is the title character, and I'm curious to see if this changes in the subsequent volumes. But certainly focusing on Adjoua and Bintou helped the stress the differences between Aya and her friends. And as someone who grew up in a society where my female friends expected to go to college, get married, and become stay-at-home moms, I certainly connected with Aya and how different she is from her friends. And the street harassment Aya and her friends are subjected to repeatedly? What happens in Yop City also happens in Boston and other cities throughout America.
The color palette Oubrerie used to bring to life Abouet's words beautifully brings to life the warmth of Yop City and the Ivory Coast. While some of the characters appeared rather cartoonist in appearance, I loved how Oubrerie focused on utilizing three colors -- red, yellow and orange, or blue, green, and purple -- for the panels of a certain chapter or page.
The two sections of this novel that should not be missed are the introduction and the glossary at the end. The glossary explains the slang interspersed throughout the story as well as the particular way Ivorian women dress. The discussion on how to roll a tassaba in order to make the men fall at your feet read like a humorous lesson being given by Adjoua and Bintou.
The introduction, which was written by an economist, discusses the setting of the novel -- the Ivory Coast in the 1970s -- and how the country was considered an example of how countries in Africa could develop. The spectacular economic growth the country experienced from the conversion of forests to cropland and from investments from French nationals in the country was dubbed the "Ivorian miracle" and explains why Abouet and Oubrerie's novel does present a version of Africa that does not include lions, child soldiers, and AIDS. It's such a refreshing view, and I am now wondering why this "miracle" was not discussed in my courses on economic development in university. ...more