The Librarian Is In

Courtesy of the Davis Family Library

By KATRINA SPENCER

Literatures and cultures librarian Katrina Spencer is liaison to the Anderson Freeman Center, the Arabic department, the French department, the Gender Sexuality & Feminist Studies (GSFS Program), the Language Schools, Linguistics and the Spanish & Portuguese departments. These affiliations are reflected in her reading choices. “While I am a very slow reader, I’m a very critical reader,” she says.

Pages: 144

The What

This story, told from a young Spanish woman, Meri’s, first-person voice, explores the reasons Meri develops unhealthy eating patterns; she indulges in binging on sugary, carbohydrate-heavy snacks as she seeks a release from the emotional pressures of her household. Her father carries out a traditional role as the financial provider for the family but is unable to channel his bitter emotions in healthy ways, regularly lashing out at his loved ones and/or attempting to escape home altogether. Meri’s mother, somewhat trapped within the emotionally abusive scenario, suffers and causes suffering by not being a reliable emotional support to her children. Having hardly anyone to turn to for comfort, Meri turns to food. It is through her boyfriend’s acceptance and unconditional love that she finds and nurtures a medium of self-expression that allows her to rediscover her self-esteem and to start making good choices for herself again.

The Why

I strongly believe in graphic novels as powerful tools for foreign language learning. What the reader does not capture through the text may be understood by the strong visual supports of the narrative. Moreover, for anyone seeking greater exposure to Peninsular Spanish, this work will give you all the “vosotrxs” that you want. The images and the language drew me in; however, it was the ease of the reading that kept me. For anyone having taken three Spanish courses, the story is highly accessible. Also, having lived in Spain for two years, I was happy to have any excuse to reconnect with the culture that is so far away from me now. Lastly, the variety of emotions contained in the story — shame, desire, anger — are not always encountered in one work alone. In that respect, the piece is very human.

Rating: 3/5 cardigans

I appreciate the memoir, as it takes on the sensitive topic of eating disorders and shows that a variety of motivations can catalyze unhealthy relationships with food. However, the story also “normalizes” teacher-student romantic relationships that our shared societies may not want to encourage. The full-color images are laudable, making a visually pleasing work. However, the storyline is predictable and ergo approximates itself to triteness. My favorite part, perhaps, was experiencing the language.

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