cover image Queen of Snails

Queen of Snails

Maureen Burdock. Graphic Mundi, $25.95 (232p) ISBN 978-1-637-79036-6

Drawn with a dreamscape of richly hued colored pencils, Burdock’s graphic memoir is a thoughtful examination of intergenerational trauma. Grieving her complicated, religious mother, Burdock asks, “Is it possible to build a strong home that transcends one’s history and culture? Not without first carefully examining those inherited structures.” Her own story begins in the Black Forest of Germany in the 1970s, where she enjoys a magical relationship with the natural world, including the snails that function as a metaphor for home and vulnerability throughout. But when her mother decides to leave her abusive husband, Burdock and her mom go to live with her grandmother—Omi, as Burdock calls her—in Chicago. Omi is a former Nazi youth leader and Holocaust minimizer. Like many Germans, she was also displaced and terrorized by WWII. As a result, Burdock’s mother spent part of her childhood in an orphanage, but “it wasn’t Jesus who protected her, but her own closed eyes.” Burdock bounces around in her youth in search of belonging, encountering along the way kindness, inspiration, and sexual violence. The art can be striking, for example a dialogue between halved red and golden Matryoshka dolls, though the language in places trends academic. Burdock’s investigation into the history that has shaped her is a deeply personal reckoning, with global ripples. (Nov.)