Like many six-year-olds, Mira Jacob's half-Jewish, half-Indian son, Z, has questions about everything. At first they are innocuous enough, but as tensions from the 2016 election spread from the media into his own family, they become much, much more complicated. Trying to answer him honestly, Mira has to think back to where she's gotten her own answers: her most formative conversations about race, color, sexuality, and, of course, love. Written with humor and vulnerability, this deeply relatable graphic memoir is a love letter to the art of conversation--and to the hope that hovers in our most difficult questions.
We learn of Mira’s growing up, her experiences after 9/11 when anyone with a darker complexion was met with distrust and she was told to ‘Just go back home!” We see her angst as Donald Trump rises to power and unexpectedly wins the US presidential election. She fears for her own future, her son’s future and the entire nation’s future.
It’s also an unusual and arresting graphic format, with photographs as the backgrounds and lifelike drawn avatars of the characters in the foreground.
Extremely well done and highly recommended! 5 stars.
I laughed out loud, I teared up. I felt turn-the-page suspense, discouragement, and the slightest hint of optimism. The book is readable in one sitting, but it’s not light material as Jacob develops the issues and powerfully immerses the reader in her experience. GOOD TALK is a very good book, and it’s an important book.
Effectively, she has made the book version of a YouTube video starring paper doll puppets on ice cream sticks. She literally draws most characters once, though some are drawn two or three times if they need to be children and adults in the narrative, then she just copies and pastes the same character images over and over in front of a different stock photo background and puts lots of word balloons over everything. The word balloons are great, mind you, but we are left with major emotional moments occurring in those balloons and faces that refuse to break from their neutral expressions. We have conversations between two characters that both stare directly out at the reader instead of making eye contact with each other. We're talking a half dozen or more pages in a row, again and again, with the same exact character images staring out at us as the background picture changes. OMG!
When Scott Meyer does this in his Basic Instruction cartoons, he does it to humorous effect, mocking himself. When Brian Michael Bendis does it in his superhero books, fans tend to groan and do the mocking for him. Here, it nearly ruins the book, as I constantly burst into laughter at the ridiculous contrast between word and image.
Still, the words are good enough that I like the book despite the illustrations.
Mira takes the reader on a journey through her life. A journey of being East Indian, a dark East Indian, in a world that prefers lighter skin. However, we don’t just see her life, we join in her conversations and the complexities of explaining race relations to a child living in a Trump nation. It’s something that can’t be explained away, but must be lived through. The timeline jumps around, but I think that helps the story have more impact. It’s what she was thinking about as her son asks the hard questions.
This work is fabulously done. The illustrations over real pictures, the way one drawn image represents multiple people of one race. It helps illustrate how some people think all people of a certain skin tones look alike. This book way moving and powerful. I think in time it will become as important a work as Maus, or Persepolis. It’s a view into the mind of someone living in a time where many are blind to the actions of our government and the ones who run it.
Mira is Indian. Her husband is white. Their cute kiddo is mixed race. You can see how having your in-laws supporting Trump can cause problems? Ah, but really you only think you understand.
Walk through this novel and you actually can see how hurtful this is. You can see how it feels to be pregnant and, while at an all white party, you are assumed to be the help instead of the daughter-in-law. Because....people with dark skin are always the help? No, they actually are not.
Mira shows us all the talks she has with her son, who is full of questions. She tries to navigate him through the 2016 election, what it means to be mixed race, why his dad doesn't hate him (dad is white = white people hate brown people), and more. It's a bit of a painful read if you let it be. And maybe you should let it be painful and really step into their shoes a bit.