Literary Quote of the Month

“For poems are not, as people think, simply emotions (one has emotions early enough)—they are experiences,” … Rilke, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Tyranny by Lesley Fairfield... A Review

I read somewhere, that you can find almost any subject covered by a graphic novel. It's a great medium to get children interested in reading and certain subject matters really lend themselves well to the medium. Tyranny by Lesley Fairfield does an outstanding job of using the medium of graphic novels to reveal the devil in anorexia and eating disorders.

The book opens with the specter Tyranny, a squiggly line drawing, yelling at Anna, a pretty young girl, about how Anna shouldn't be eating because she'll get FAT. Tyranny is literally choking Anna to get her to listen to her.

" I told you not to eat. You are TOO FAT!!"
" I've got to try."
" No, you don't! You'll RUIN you're life!"
" But how can I live and not eat?"

And the next image is a close up of Anna, eyes bulging, bone thin, tears welling in her eyes. Looking directly at the reader, and asking...
" How did I get to this place?"

You immediately feel empathy for her. You want to tell her that she doesn't need to be thin to be beautiful, to be accepted, to have self worth...

The book follows Anna from a carefree little girl with dreams of becoming a writer, thinking of the wonderful future ahead- Will she be beautiful? Who will she marry? What will her house look like someday? How many children will she have? Then puberty hits... She goes shopping with her mom for her first bra, and as she is looking in the mirror, it hits her... her body is changing, she thinks she looks fat... She starts to look at magazines with all those skinny models and decides she needs to go on a diet... She becomes obsessed with her weight... but no matter how thin she becomes, she thinks she is fat. This was the beginning of her anorexia, and a story that is dead on with what goes on in the mind and body of someone with an eating disorder.
"Pressured by media, friends, fashion trends, her workplace, and personal relationships, Anna descends into a cycle of misery that seems unending. Whenever she tries to rise from the abyss, her personal demon, Tyranny, is there to push her back down. In Tyranny, Anna has created a formidable foe, and now, finding the strength to defeat her is a matter of life or death."


I've never been anorexic, but I certainly have been on the "got to lose weight" roller coaster, and could relate to what Anna was going through. And just when you think that women are fighting back just a bit when the media criticizes "shapely" women for being fat, you read about another young girl dying senselessly from trying to be "perfect". A recent tragedy was Isabelle Caro, a French actress and model, who died Nov. 17th at the age of 28. Isabelle posed nude in 2007, in a shocking billboard ad headlined, "No Anorexia", which revealed Isabelle's ravaged 59 pound body, and this was her message to other young women struggling with themselves.

Lesley Fairfield does a great job of illustrating the seriousness of of an eating disorders, and how a girl can be her own worst critic. Tyranny is quite the witch, and as wrong as you know her logic is, she can be bewitching. The struggles that Anna has in her head should resonate with young girls struggling with the same feelings. As Anna's life begins to slowly fall apart, and she becomes ill, her mother intervenes and gets her in a program. But it's a long hard road for Anna, and recovery doesn't come without a slip or two back into some bad habits, but in the final pages, Anna conquers Tyranny and brings hope to anyone with the same struggles. .

Tyranny,
For the first time in a long time. I have a future, and I'M HAPPY! So, once and for all, I don't care about being thin!! Good-bye, and go away!
Anna.

A slim 114 page graphic novel, geared towards ages 11 and up, Tyranny by Lesley Fairfield, has an important message. If you have a young girl in your life, consider sharing a copy of Tyranny with her. Not a preachy book, more like your best friend sharing some sage advice.

*P.S. I read Tyranny as part of The Graphic Novels Challenge 2010! Click on The Graphic Novels Challenge link to see what other graphic novels I read this year!

6 comments:

Kaye said...

The problem with anorexia is it's not just about being "fat" and body image. There are numerous complex psycological issues that can take years of therapy to overcome. This sounds like a good book to start with though before it escaltes to wishes of suicide.

Suzanne said...

Hi Kaye,
You are absolutely right! And this graphic novel packs a powerful punch to shatter the beginnings of the self doubt and some of the other issues that contribute to the problem. I was impressed, especially when Anna actually gets into therapy, "thinks" she is cured, but relapses because "cured" isn't really what happens with anorexia, it's a constant and continual battle.

Thanks for sharing!

Kaye said...

Hi again, I can attest to that. My daughter started therapy just before her 15th birthday - 4 years of that and seemingly better - now at age 41 she still wieighs about 90 pounds and is obsessed with exercise. Granted she is only 5 feet tall but still she is too thin. It's one of the scariest diseases as far as I'm concerned because as a parent it is so hard to understand.

Suzanne said...

Oh Kaye... I am so sorry... It must be so scary even now. Your sharing about your daughter may help people who have never had someone in their lives suffering from anorexia, see the long term and life altering effects of this illness. There is no magic pill.

My thoughts are with you...

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Reine Marie said...

Simple, sparse and cuts to the quick of body dysmorphia and anorexia. Great drawings, tight story, a rapid-fast read: good stuff.

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