My Body in Pieces

Marie-Noëlle Hébert, trans. from the French by Shelley Tanaka. Groundwood, $19.95 (104p) ISBN 978-1-77306-484-0
“Each day I focus on finding fault with my body, one piece at a time,” Hébert writes in this moody personal examination of body image. Fuzzy-bordered grayscale graphite panels range from blurry impressions of judgmental relatives to the brutal clarity of makeup-mirror close-ups. After leaving her verbally abusive father, unsupportive mother, and an aunt who offers unsolicited dieting advice, Marie-Noëlle, 20, lives alone but for her cat. The comfort she finds in food has transformed into self-loathing, revisited through childhood memory fragments. In illustrations based on family snapshots and yearbook photos, Hébert recalls a preschool “obsession” with princesses, dolefully tries on ill-fitting department-store clothes at age eight, faces bullies at 11, and considers buying a razor to harm herself (“Then I just feel like a big cliché and I go back home”). Self-destructive ideation convinces her to seek counseling, and her college friend Matilda encourages her. Hébert’s emotive panels of fragmented, abstract bodies could be stand-alone placards for anger and grief. A feel-good, if slightly underbuilt, denouement recommends self-acceptance (“What if I’d loved myself from the beginning?”), albeit tempered by the more honest rage that drives this raw, cathartic debut graphic memoir. Ages 14–up. (Apr.)
Reviewed on : 04/01/2021
Release date: 04/01/2021
Genre: Children's
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