cover image Passing for Human: A Graphic Memoir

Passing for Human: A Graphic Memoir

Liana Finck. Random House, $28 (240p) ISBN 978-0-525-50892-2

Alienation is both blessing and curse in this elegant graphic memoir of being the odd woman out. Leola’s family has always been strange—quiet, anxious, prone to dreaming. Though this propelled her parents into successful careers as an architect and a doctor, Leola wears her oddity like a ball and chain. She shies away from other children and finds herself exiled from classroom hierarchies. In metanarrative interludes, Leola even restarts the book itself, plagued with doubt over its quality. But as she discovers, being different doesn’t just drive you away from others—it can lead you to authenticity, as well. Finck intertwines her jittery, dense line work with fairy tale whimsy: sentient shadows climb in through windows, anxieties are literal rats that nibble at her as she works, God is a queen on a cloud who presides over an Edenic stage set. Though a lesser artist might have leaned on such magical realism as a crutch, Finck’s whimsy acts as a microscope to better understand family, romance, and isolation. This story is as tender as it is wry, depicting, for instance, despair with goofy drawings of robots and princesses. Becoming human is a lifelong task—but Finck illustrates it with humor and panache. Agent: Meredith Kaffel Simonoff, DeFiore and Co. (Sept.)