Review: Displacement: A Travelogue by Lucy Knisley

displacementTitle: Displacement: A Travelogue

Author: Lucy Knisley

Publisher: Fantagraphics Books

Source: Purchased

Check this book out on Goodreads.

Buy at: Chapters | Book Depository

5 stars copy

In a book that is part graphic memoir, part travelogue, and part family history, Knisley not only tries to connect with her grandparents, but to reconcile their younger and older selves. She is aided in her quest by her grandfather’s WWII memoir, which is excerpted. Readers will identify with Knisley s frustration, her fears, her compassion, and her attempts to come to terms with mortality, as she copes with the stress of travel complicated by her grandparents frailty. (Source: Goodreads)

In this graphic memoir, a follow-up to her previous travelogue An Age of License, Knisley goes on another trip – this time with her elderly grandparents. The trio go on a Caribbean cruise, and Knisley’s trip is less vacation than caretaking job. While she travels she also re-reads her grandfather’s memoir about his time during World War II. Ruminating on subjects like familial love, mortality, and youth, Knisley depicts the weeklong trip from start to finish hiding none of the upsetting details.

Displacement, much like An Age of License, really hit me hard. The subject matter of this particular memoir/travelogue is very relatable to anyone, and that’s what was so impactful. Everyone will grow old, has known elderly people, and has struggled in their own youth. To be honest I cried through quite a lot of this. I, as always, loved Knisley art as well, and thought her illustrations paired with excerpts from her grandfather’s memoir were also very touching.

Knisley’s writing is often very introspective and relies less on a narrative of actions and more on the emotional journey that she’s experiencing. I really love that about her work. I think the emotional journey of this particular book was so amazing. There are these tender moments between her and her grandfather that are so perfectly illustrated. I love her formats especially, there’s often the panel to panel storytelling but she also uses all these unique systems for telling her story and I just love it.

I think pairing her own story with her grandfather’s war memoir was a really excellent choice. I don’t know that they stories really share any similarities in theme on the surface level. But they explore the same parts of Knisley and her grandfather’s lives and deal very directly with the idea of mortality. I think it worked well, and it was especially these bits that made me cry.

I don’t quite know how to put it all in words, but this book is really excellent and everyone should read it. It explores really important family relationships, and the personal journey we all eventually go on in facing death, growing up, being alone, and finding love.

Ramble on,

Have you read DisplacementLet me know your thoughts in the comments!
Check out Lucy Knisley at her website, Goodreads, and Twitter.
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