A Life Turned Upside Down: My Dad’s an Alcoholic

Mariko Kikuchi, trans. from the Japanese by Alexa Frank. Seven Seas, $14.99 trade paper (144p) ISBN 978-1-64827-596-8
Kikuchi’s unflinching debut manga memoir details her growing up with an alcoholic father. Through simple but appealing art, Kikuchi relays a childhood full of broken promises and unfulfilled dreams, covering her father’s substance use, her mother’s suicide, abusive relationships, and her and her sister’s struggles to find happiness despite their circumstances. In one scene, she shows herself as a schoolgirl pulling her father from a bathtub before he drowns: “I didn’t want to deal with dad when he was drunk... but if I didn’t, this monster would’ve died.” Her coping mechanism is to repress her feelings, balling them up until she doesn’t know why she’s crying. Despite acquaintances treating her father’s drunkenness as a lighthearted joke, Kikuchi works through layers of denial and confusion, coming to realize she doesn’t need to love or feel grateful to such a toxic parent. Throughout, Kikuchi’s passion for manga and drawing keeps her grounded and keeps the hard-hitting subject matter from dragging on as too unbearably bleak. Her thin, clear lines are minimalist but effective. Ending on a hopeful note, the narrative lands as deeply cathartic. Fans of Nagata Kabi’s My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness and Akiko Higashimura’s Blank Canvas will welcome this heartfelt addition to the essay manga genre. (Nov.)
Reviewed on : 10/05/2021
Release date: 11/02/2021
Genre: Comics
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