I heard about this book from my book club, but then quickly forgot about it, until I came across it on OverDrive. I was in Vienna, on vacation, and wanted a graphic novel to read.
Something short and light, I thought.
Oh boy. Was I wrong. Neither short nor light, although definitely uplifting in the end.
Like most kids, Katie was a picky eater. She'd sit at the table in silent protest, hide uneaten toast in her bedroom, listen to parental threats that she'd have to eat it for breakfast.
But in any life a set of circumstance can collide, and normal behavior might soon shade into something sinister, something deadly.
Lighter Than My Shadow is a hand-drawn story of struggle and recovery, a trip into the black heart of a taboo illness, an exposure of those who are so weak as to prey on the vulnerable, and an inspiration to anybody who believes in the human power to endure towards happiness.
Lighter Than My Shadow is a memoir, based on the author’s own experiences. The book is written in such an honest and compelling way, that I couldn’t put it down. I read it almost in 2 sittings (or rather “lying down”s as I read it in bed at night). I couldn’t stop reading. I might have shed a tear or two. Or three. And after I was done, I still kept thinking about that book. If it weren’t a 500-pages chunker, I might have started reading it all over again.
This is a graphic novel, which makes it even easier to sympathize with Katie, when you get to see visual manifestations of her thoughts, eating disorder, fears. It is incredibly touching and relatable on various levels - we see Katie’s internal struggles and her problems communicating with her family and friends. You don’t have to have an eating disorder or any other mental illness, or have anyone in your life who suffers in the same way, to be completely pulled into Katie’s world and be able to sympathize with her.
The book is drawn in sort of grey, brown-ish scale. My favourite parts were the ones in which we could see what is happening in Katie’s head while she is talking to people, or how she sees herself as a ghost, a shadow, that gets more and more transparent, and therefore invisible. This is such a true depiction of any mental illness or any other invisible disability. It definitely pulled on my heart strings.
Lighter Than My Shadow can be triggering for some readers, as it deals with topics of mental illness, self-harm, thoughts of suicide, abuse. But it is such an important book, written with such honesty and grace, that it has to be recommended to everyone. It is the best book for both people suffering from mental illness as it gives you hope and their loved ones as it shows how it feels to live with this every day.
If I could, I would give this book a million of stars. Read it. Preferably, on iPad as the paperback version is a behemoth.
Rating: 5 stars