Tuesday, December 13, 2011

American Widow

American Widow
by Alissa Torres and Sungyoon Choi
Villard, 2008. 209 pgs. Biography

Torres's husband, Eddie, started work at Cantor Fitzgerald in the World Trade Center on September 10, 2001. The next day, Alissa became one of the terrorist widows of 9/11. This book chronicles Alissa's first year without Eddie—including the birth of their child, two months after his death. It also traces their courtship, marriage and the last few days of Eddie's life.

I have read a number of graphic memoirs, and a number of memoirs about grief, and I think this book combines the best qualities of both. The illustrations and the gaps in the story give it more power than words alone would; sometimes a picture really is the best way to convey powerful emotions. The choice of colors was also interesting; most of the book uses only three colors in the illustrations, except for a few pages that really stand out because of their difference. I thought this was an excellent book, both as a memoir about a personal tragedy and a commentary on a major event in our country’s history.


1 comment:

ACS said...

Alissa’s life changed drastically when her husband died on his second day of work in the World Trade Center. Their marriage may have been a little strained, but the loss of her husband was devastating nonetheless.

This was the first graphic memoir I have read, and I also really appreciated the limited color scheme and its symbolism. The story was very easy to follow, but there were times when I found myself a little frustrated by Alissa, much like some of the other characters depicted, and that’s not something I’m proud of. I wanted her to wake up from her catatonic state and get the things done she needed to, but she couldn’t. She really couldn’t. I suppose that’s what makes this story feel so realistic. She didn’t gloss over the debilitating effects of grief. Having never experienced such grief personally, this wasn’t something I could relate to, but I’m glad I got to learn about it a little more in such an interesting way. The graphic novel format really added something extra.