Grieving behind a plastic lion mask: Mother Come Home

April 25th, 2009 by

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I picked up Paul Hornschemeier’s Mother Come Home from the library because I vaguely remembered someone somewhere giving it a good review. I found it to be a profoundly sad and beautiful study of how children process loss. The core of the story is about seven or eight year old boy coping with the death of his mother and the resulting mental breakdown of his father. A subject that hits rather close to home for me. The loss of mother of the title has uprooted his father from reality, he loses track of anything other than his overwhelming grief, and the boy, Thomas finds himself in the care taker role. Thomas creates his own myths to explain his altered life, and clings to invented rituals to anchor himself in his now unstable world. The climax of the story involves his need to fix his father’s problem, and therefore fix his own life, which fails utterly. The book is narrated by an older Thomas, and it is his more mature understanding of the events that he is relating that keeps the story from being completely devastating. The art suits the story perfectly. It is straightforward and grim but at the same time innocent and childlike. I would recommend this to anyone who would claim graphic novels can’t have the same emotional impact of prose.

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