Ken's Reviews > You'll Never Know, Vol. 2: Collateral Damage

You'll Never Know, Vol. 2 by Carol Tyler
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's review
May 18, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: nonfiction
Read from May 18 to 24, 2012

This review contains spoilers.

You'll Never Know: Collateral Damage is the second volume in C. Tyler's graphic memoir trilogy. In it, she continues her exploration of parent/child relationships and the ways in which her father's experiences in World War II have influenced both his and her lives.

In terms of the central mystery of the trilogy--what happened to her father while in Italy--some light is shed. She continues the scrapbook of her father's wartime experiences, moving through the years of the war and bringing the history closer to his time in Italy.

In the present time, in the hospital for an unrelated medical condition, Tyler's father, Chuck, is told by his doctor that he appears to have had a surgery some time in the past, as his stomach displays a visible scar from a procedure. Tyler's father, however, has no memory of such a surgery, and cannot recall why he would have had one. This revelation gives the author even more incentive to discover what happened in Italy.

This focus on Chuck and his relationship with Tyler, while of course important, takes a secondary position in this volume. In place of that focus, Tyler foregrounds her mother, including--as in the first volume--issues both past and present. Her mom faces medical issues in the present day, and she is unable to maintain the household as she did in the past, which further destabilizes her parents' home life. As she recalls the past, Tyler shows her mother's wartime experiences at home, alone, as well as the great tragedy of her mother's life.

Tyler's own mothering also comes to the forefront in this second volume, as her daughter becomes increasingly dissatisfied with her parents' separation--particularly after her dad shows up, stays for a few weeks, and again leaves--as well as more and more distant. By the end of the volume, Tyler discovers her daughter has fallen in with the wrong crowd, has been taking drugs, and one morning, has arrived at school drunk.

It is at this point--as Tyler sits on a park bench considering the failing health of her parents, their difficult marriage, her precarious relationship with her father, her search for the truth of the war, her dissolving marriage, and her daughter's challenges--that Hitler appears as he did at the end of volume 1. This time, he appears as a raven, again proclaiming, "I am proud of the pain my war inflicts on your children." Tyler stands up, grabs the bird, and responds defiantly, telling Hitler his legacy will not be passed on to her daughter. There, volume two ends--just as the raven escapes and flies away.
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