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9 of 1: University of Massachusetts - Book Review
Novel spans cultures
By Cameron J. Woods, Collegian Staff
December 10, 2003
Oliver Chin has created a graphic novel that in an innovative and original way
depicts the aftermath and personal reactions to the Sept. 11 tragedies. Some may
feel that such a serious subject matter should not be committed to such a
frivolous medium as the graphic novel, but Chin rose above the limiting
connotations of this style of book and created perhaps one of the most honest
works regarding the most shocking event in recent U.S. history.
The premise of the story revolves around an 11th grade history class, in a
nouthern California middle school. The story briefly pans over the day before
and the tragedies, and picks up on the class receiving their new assignment,
which sets the rest of the book in action. The children are told that they are
to interview someone that they do not know, who is also at least twice their
age, about their feelings towards Sept. 11.
True to form, the comic book style cut right to the children's reports which,
with subject matter as painful as this is a welcome relief. Crammed into the
next 80 pages we are given accounts from the lives of an array of people, from
an account of a retired Russian soldier who was active during the Soviet
attempts to quell Afghani rebellion, to the retelling of the experience of the
Japanese internment camps in America by an elderly Asian widow.
There are nine stories in this book, 10 if you include that of the children.
Each tale is told from a member of a different national origin and from a
different walk of life.
What ties these nine individual and geographically - as well as temporally -
isolated stories together is that they all revolve around the tragedies of life
and the old adage that history repeats itself. The fact that all of these tales
are in essence fiction does absolutely nothing to detract from their
believability. These are the stories of not only lives lived in tragedy but the
lives lived in tragedies that have repeated themselves throughout history,
despite historians' best attempts to educate. The stories also argue the most
basic connections of all humanity - our desires, dreams and even the
fundamentals of our beliefs.
Priced at $12.50 this book is not only affordable, but also a value. Though it
may sound like heavy reading for something during finals time the 107 pages are
dominated mostly by the images that tell as much of the story as the words.