Gender Queer: A Memoir – Graphic Novel Review
Title: Gender Queer: A Memoir
Author: Maia Kobabe
Genre: graphic novel, LGBT, non-fiction, autobiography, memoir
Release Date: 28 May 2019
Note: I received a copy of this graphic memoir by the publishers through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
ABOUT GENDER QUEER: A MEMOIR BY MAIA KOBABE
In 2014, Maia Kobabe, who uses e/em/eir pronouns, thought that a comic of reading statistics would be the last autobiographical comic e would ever write. At the time, it was the only thing e felt comfortable with strangers knowing about em. Now, Gender Queer is here. Maia’s intensely cathartic autobiography charts eir journey of self-identity, which includes the mortification and confusion of adolescent crushes, grappling with how to come out to family and society, bonding with friends over erotic gay fanfiction, and facing the trauma and fundamental violation of pap smears. Started as a way to explain to eir family what it means to be nonbinary and asexual, Gender Queer is more than a personal story: it is a useful and touching guide on gender identity–what it means and how to think about it–for advocates, friends, and humans everywhere.
I did not know what I was getting myself into when I first decided to read this. As many people are, I was drawn in by the cover, and then intrigued by the synopsis, but I had no idea I about the format. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it was a graphic memoir.
One thing that did bothered me was the rapid jump from scene to scene and the lack of flow.
Scenes started and ended very abruptly and moved onto a new scene quicker that I could comprehend the purpose of the previous one.It was almost like a long list of facts about different points of the narrators’ life were being stated on a new page, completely irrelevant to what was mentioned in the previous page. It does not flow very well.
At first I assumed that the target audience for this was children, or young teenagers. It jumps so quickly from point to point, it does not elaborate by fleshing out what is happening to keep the reader hooked. Almost as if the narrator does not want to overwhelm the reader with too many details. It is easy enough for a child or middle schooler to follow, talking about topics like going through puberty. This memoir definitely highlights what society deems to be the appropriate behaviour of a boy and a girl, but it does not have an advanced or complex plot.
After reading the explicit scenes, I re-evaluated my previous assumption that this is a children’s graphic novel. This memoir delved deep into the exploration of sexuality and sensuality, in a way that is informative and thought provoking, but I am definitely not sure who the target audience is supposed to be.
I love how em pushed herself to keep reading and ended up a reader.
There are quite a few elements I really like, some I love, but overall this graphic memoir was not the best. The plot was irregular and the pace and tone were inconsistent. I appreciate and respect the story that is trying to be told, but at points it was hard to stay invested.
I loved the One Direction throwbacks, and the Larry Stylinson (Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson ship name) references. It brought back fond memories of my high school days, where I lived and breathed “Fangirl”.
I cannot imagine having to go through the trauma the narrator had to go through. As a cisgender female, I never struggled with accepting myself or felt like I did not belong in my own body. I won’t pretend to understand, but I respect and support Maia. Body and gender dysmorphia is a horrible thing to have to live with. Maia is so brave for putting eir out there. There are many people who don’t understand this, and many who need to see this. Whether that be for themselves or to support a loved one or even a stranger who is struggling with accepting themselves and do not feel comfortable in their own bodies.
This is my first time coming across the Spivak pronoun system. but i am not opposed to trying to integrate this into my vocabulary, or my mindset. I don’t know if I’ll ever have a need for it in my day-to-day reality, but that doesn’t mean i need to forget that it exists.
I love the message of the story though. About the journey of self discovery Maia went though, embracing em identity and gaining the confidence to tell people about how e identifies.
Despite this not being a very good story, it has a very powerful message. It tells attempts to express the narrative that is so often silenced, or ignored. It was great to see Maia embrace eir true self, and true to come to term with who em is.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This graphic memoir is definitely worth a read, the topics that are discussed and the journey Maia goes on is inspiring and informative.
Feel free to have a look at my other reviews on Goodreads: View all my reviews
Thank you to NetGalley for the opportunity to read this!