Monday, September 12, 2016

Teva Harrison's In-Between Days

In-Between Days / Teva Harrison
Toronto: Anansi, c2015.
168 p.

This book is like nothing I've read before. It's a memoir by Teva Harrison, diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer at age 37. It's in graphic novel format. And she tells her story in a raw, honest way that also reaffirms the glory of life. It's hard to capture the exact tone she uses but it is powerful, moving, and yes, heart-breaking.

She uses her distinctive black&white style to express the emotional aspect of her diagnosis, and the way it came up against the normal expectations of life: her assumptions that she'd be living into old age alongside her husband, the possibility of children, all of that. All the taken for granted kind of thoughts for the future. And she shows how even with the fear and illness that comes with treatment, life is still precious. 

She also doesn't hide any of the realities of treatment -- how she can look fine but not feel it, how her friends have to learn not to expect her at events even if she's said she'll attend, the lonely hours facing her physical limitations, and the sorrow of her family. But she does it in a way that welcomes the reader in, that allows us to more deeply understand what those we love who are undergoing such a passage might be feeling, might be needing from us. 

She also includes memories and stories from life pre-diagnosis - stories that are charming, hilarious, and simply compelling. It's a reminder that cancer is not her entire identity.

She has an unsentimental voice and a beautiful, generous eye, and together these gifts create an unforgettable book. While I wholeheartedly wish she had never had reason to write such a book, she has looked at her life unflinchingly and created a stunning book that should be shared widely. 

(you can also read her thoughtful words at her blog)


5 comments:

  1. Wow, what a thing to have happen to you at 37. This sounds like a rough read but a really terrific one.

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    1. It's an amazing response to this terrible diagnosis. She's an outstanding writer.

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  2. Wonderful review, Melwyk! This book sounds like an incredible, inspirational graphic memoir.

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    1. Incredible and heart-wrenching. So powerful.

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  3. And so un-put-down-able too. Very disorienting. And strangely simple and complex, simultaneously.

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