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Review: Parenthesis


Years ago I had a friend who I used to be stationed with in the military go through a terrible malady. To give it the proper perspective, he was 30 when he got the news of a horrible disease that would take away his sight, and eventually will kill him. To make matters worse, his wife at the time filed for divorce, making the “timing of his life” almost cruel to watch from afar. He did not want to be looked at with pity as he looked to triumph despite.

He would go through both his loss of sight and the loss of his family, with his head up, never wanting help and never really needing it. He found a way to push through. He would eventually tell me that it was hell at first, but his faith made him accept all that came his way. Though he is no longer with us as the disease ultimately took his life, it was his perseverance that has made me on my worst days think of his fortitude. In Elodie Durand’s Parenthesis, our protagonist has a life-altering event happen to her much like my friend. How she endures is what makes her the hero in this touching graphic novel.

We’re taken back to when our narrator first moved out of her parents’ house 25 years ago, to living on her own in Paris. As her solitude pushes her to start drawing, revealing bit by bit, fragments that she did not realize spoke of her, piecing together memories. As symptoms of a malady start appearing out of nowhere, leading her to forget stuff, and dismissing the episodes of having “spells”.  This leads her to see a neurologist, where she discovers that she is epileptic. She soon becomes a recluse and becomes resolved in the fact, that she has no control of her body any longer. All the while, she continues her master’s degree, refusing to let this be an impediment, but some bad news arrives via an MRI scan, an inoperable tumor. The amalgamation of these facts only deepens her depression, and through a biopsy, found out it was cancerous. Soon she would lose track of time, because of the treatments, where life mostly consisted of trips to the hospital and eventually leading to the tumor being operable, and her doctor, eventually getting treatment from a Gamma Knife. After which, her seizures only got worse, where she discovered she has cerebral edema, which leads to different treatments, and successfully shrinking the edema, eventually making the tumor, necrotic, with only a scar as a trace of the disease in the first place. She ends up using her “new lease on Life” to experience some new “firsts”. Though she felt brand new, she still had memory issues, leading her to more medicine and more treatments. By Parenthesis’ end, Elodie is epileptic no more, no longer disabled, and accepting her life as is.

Overall, Parenthesis is an engaging tome that guides the reader on a journey that would shatter most. The story by Durand is harrowing but ultimately, inspiring. The art by Durand is gorgeous. Altogether, a story in which the reader can more than appreciate this hero’s journey.

Story: Elodie Durand Art: Elodie Durand
Story: 10 Art: 9.7 Overall: 9.86 Recommendation: Buy

IDW Publishing provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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Preview: Parenthesis


(W) Elodie Durand (A/CA) Elodie Durand
In Shops: Feb 10, 2021
SRP: $19.99

A triumph of graphic memoir, Parenthesis narrates the author’s experience with tumor-related epilepsy-losing herself, and finding herself again.

Julie is barely out of her teens when a tumor begins pressing on her brain, ushering in a new world of seizures, memory gaps, and loss of self. Suddenly, the sentence of her normal life has been interrupted by the opening of a parenthesis that may never close.

Based on the real experiences of cartoonist Élodie Durand, Parenthesis is a gripping testament of struggle, fragility, acceptance, and transformation which was deservedly awarded the Revelation Prize of the Angoulême International Comics Festival.