cover image Ronan and the Endless Sea of Stars: A Graphic Memoir

Ronan and the Endless Sea of Stars: A Graphic Memoir

Rick Louis and Lara Antal. Abrams ComicArts, $24.99 (160p) ISBN 978-1-4197-5108-0

A couple navigate their young son’s terminal illness in Louis’s painful but spirited graphic memoir debut. Before marrying, the idea of parenthood daunted Louis, who wonders, “What if I couldn’t protect my kid from all the dangerous, scary, sad things?” But when Louis and wife Emily bring home Ronan, Louis couldn’t be more delighted. Ronan’s “a pretty happy baby,” but his parents notice he isn’t hitting typical developmental milestones. Surpassing their worst fears, an ophthalmologist identifies signs of Tay-Sachs disease, a genetic disorder that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, and is normally fatal by age four. Tracking Ronin’s prognosis, each page is freighted with unbearable foreboding. Louis darts forward and backward in time, pursuing echoes and themes as he tries to make sense of a senseless grief. His principal subject, though, is the joy he felt being Ronan’s dad. Frivolous comic asides—dad jokes—dispense levity throughout, and Antal’s art balances the lighter tone, sometimes to disarming effect, as when Louis pushes past a retail aisle of childproofing gear, realizing he won’t need any. In this frank telling of a devastating ordeal, it’s the beauty of the too-brief loving moments that lingers. [em](Nov.) [/em]