cover image Silence, Full Stop

Silence, Full Stop

Karina Shor. Street Noise, $23.99 trade paper (272) ISBN 978-1-951-49125-3

Shor’s pull-no-punches graphic memoir debut depicts her attempts as a young woman to recover from trauma, with striking illustrations that toggle between realism and fragmented, color-saturated dreamscapes. As a Jewish child in Moldova in the late 1980s, Karina begins life as an outsider, but moving with her parents to Israel as “communism was crumbling” only lands her in a place where everything is “exciting, unique... and out of reach” for her impoverished, culture-shocked family. An acquaintance of her father’s sexually assaults her, setting off years of discomfort in her body and self-destructive behavior, including an eating disorder. Karina tells her parents about the assault soon after it occurs, and they send her to therapy, but taking the “right” actions doesn’t save her from shame-based anxiety as she grows up. After a series of bad, druggy boyfriends contributes to her own drug abuse, Karina is scared into sobriety by an STD. But even going to college and pursuing art don’t bring her peace. For comfort, she hangs on to her father’s words: “Nothing hurts forever.” The plot itself is tragically familiar, but what stands out is the gorgeously grim-yet-colorful art (an image where she’s manipulating her own face into smiling by putting her fingers in her eye sockets is especially chilling), and Shor’s avoidance of pat confessional-as-healing tropes. This is all the more powerful for its realistic acknowledgement of life’s darkness. (Nov.)