Friday, April 26, 2013

A Game for Swallows: To Die, To Leave, To Return-Zeina Abirached

Having known very little about the civil war in Lebanon, I was very excited to pick up this book and learn an unfamiliar history. A Game for Swallows is a collection of memories from the author herself, making the story feel a lot more honest in its deliver as well as innocent. It's strange to describe a story of war as innocent, but it is from the perspective of a child experiencing said war so I suppose that is to be expected. The beginning of the novel is a sort of primer on the history of Lebanon and the war occurring within it, followed by a subplot of the importance of building a strong family and community during times of political upheaval. Having grown up only knowing a Lebanon in a civil war, Zeina is able to tell a story with a violent backdrop that is not hyper-focused on the negative but rather the beauty and positivity of a group of people that truly love and care about one another.
The illustration is very simple and mostly in black and white, similar to Persepolis. The drawings are very linear and focus more on the appearance of the characters rather than scenery or background detail. I found myself getting lost in the complexity of the hairs on the characters and being blown away by the thoughtfulness of each drawing.
For the most part, the story takes place indoors in a few rooms that the characters must inhibit to remain safe from the bombing that is taking place beyond their windows and doors. Zeina creates a very multifaceted setting \]and reality despite the limitations of the space the characters can exist in. I found this compelling because it added to the sense of community and care the characters have found within the confines of conflict.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it to readers of all ages. I feel as though it is not too politically complex for a young reader, yet not pandering and sloppy for an adult reader. I think it is important that history is told from the perspective of those that have experienced it or have experienced oppression from it. Zeina does not dwell on the misery of war, but rather gives an honest portrayal of the love that crisis can create and bloom.
Here is a video of Zeina Abirached speaking about her graphic novel. 

1 comment:

Laura Coyotl said...

I also do not know much about the civil war in Lebanon, but I do know that a war is hard on anyone, especially on children. Children do not understand what war is, and having to go through something like will most likely have an effect on them. The story itself sounds good because since the story is told from a view of someone growing up in that environment and having to experience what the effects of war. This book sounds like a good read, since you recommend it for any age group. Many young adults are still not very involved in politics, so this book will not confuse them, overall, it should be an easy read. I do recommend that you add some link to provide more insight info on your book. Good review.