cover image Kid Gloves: Nine Months Of Careful Chaos

Kid Gloves: Nine Months Of Careful Chaos

Lucy Knisley. First Second, $19.99 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-62672-808-0

This funny and sometimes harrowing memoir, in which Knisley (Relish) shares her birth experience, is hampered by an emotionally detached narrative style. The Chicago cartoonist intersperses each chronological step of her pregnancy with cleverly scathing facts about the history of obstetrics as well as the superstitions surrounding giving birth. Knisley shines in those segments, with her didactic narrative voice and clever cartooning solutions being well suited to the material. The stories about her miscarriages, a detailed account of each trimester, and her near-death experience while giving birth are all intense and intimate. However, her art is too clean and cheerful to adequately convey the intensity of these experiences. The artifice of Knisley’s narrative style clashes with the raw emotion of her hardships, making it feel as though she’s writing about someone else. The book’s most affecting moment comes when Knisley’s husband relates the story of the near-fatal birth from his point of view. If the book sags when Knisley discusses her own pain, it soars when she offers blunt opinions about the myths she’s heard or the insensitive treatment she received. Despite its tonal problems, the book is worth reading for Knisley’s fierce wit, strong point of view, and well-paced storytelling. (Feb.)