“Labels” are something that is both perfunctory and enigmatic. As we need them in an ever changing world, where identity is required in a world where so many people try to diminish one’s existence on race or sexual orientation. There’s even more indifference or outright ignorance when it comes to groups who often get left out in the margins. I remember as a child, one of the first questions I got asked in school, was “what’s my nationality?”
The problem with the question was I had no idea the answer because I never heard the term before. My aunt explained it to me that day. Years later, I look at that moment and realized society has always looked to put a “label” on me. The good thing about modern times is that you can be multiple identities and repression or obfuscation is now frowned upon, but still happens. In Thomas King’s Borders, he shows how sinister these labels are and how it can mean life or death for our protagonists.
We meet an Indigenous family living in Canada, whose oldest daughter, Laetitia, decides to go to move to Salt Lake City, to make a life of her own , which leaves her mother worried but supportive and her brother, melancholic. The family would keep in touch through postcards and the family would look for another reunion by the brother and mother visiting the sister in Salt Lake City. This time would prove to be different, as the family got to the border, patrol asks the mother what is her citizenship, to which she replies “Blackfoot”. This at first creates confusion, then frustration, which leads to their detainment but were let go to go back to Canada, which is where the mother declares the same citizenship, Blackfoot, and much like the American border, they were again detained. As the mother’s stance remained undeterred no matter who she was in front of , as it was ma matter of principle, leaving the mother and son in between borders, leaving the son to rekindle the memories of his sister to keep him hopeful, as they find the hospitality of a storekeeper of a duty free shop and catching the attention of the news worldwide . By book’s, end, the mother and son are reunited with Laetitia in Salt Lake City , and eventually return home , standing even stronger in their convictions.
Overall, Borders is a graphic novel which asks more than fair questions about identities, walls, and borders that keep us all separated. The story by King is relevant and powerful. The art by Donovan is gorgeous. Altogether, a book that shines a light on problems that most would not know of, and ones that the world should move to correct.
Story: Thomas King Art: Natasha Donovan
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy
Purchase: Amazon (hardcover) – Amazon (paperback) – Kindle – Bookshop – TFAW