cover image The House

The House

Paco Roca, trans. from the Spanish by Andrea Rosenberg. Fantagraphics, $19.99 (134p) ISBN 978-1-68396-263-2

Roca (Twists of Fate) examines grief as an overstuffed house that the bereaved must restore, rebuild, and, ultimately, let go in this touching and pensive ensemble cast graphic novel. Siblings Jose, Vicente, and Carla journey to put their family’s vacation home in order after their father dies. They tease, bicker, and sift through his trophies, garden detritus, and unfinished projects as they confront unanswerable questions: Was their father proud of their accomplishments? And what do they want to do with the legacy they have been left? Roca forces his trio of protagonists to wrestle with the inscrutability of clues their father left behind, from his sun hat to the cracked and mildewed pool they helped him build as children (some remembering loving this labor, others resenting it). The cool-toned colors render even the most cozy parts of the home alien, and Roca depicts the plants and furniture in more detail than the cast of characters, creating a remove that mirrors their father’s distance. In the end, Roca concludes that grief is an active process, one each sibling must move through alone, even as they try to join in decisions together. Though it doesn’t close on a tidy moral, the reader is left feeling that hope lies with the living, despite the mistakes of the past. [em](Nov.) [/em]