Graphic Novel Review 151/365: Secret Path

Please keep up with all of my old Graphic Novel Reviews here as I quest for 365 in 365 days! Or hit up #GN365 on Twitter.

No specific theme this week…just some cool books that you should know about!

Title: Secret Path 

Author(s): Gord Downie and Jeff Lemire

Publisher: Simon and Schuster (2016)

Age Rating: 13+

I went to a local comic book shop last night to look for a few new graphic novels to add to my read list, and in my search through the graphic novel wall, I came across a Jeff Lemire/Gord Downie (of the band The Tragically Hip) book that I had not seen before: Secret Path.

About the size of a record album, this graphic novel comes with a sticker on the cover stating that the book comes with a ten-song album download from Gord Downie.  Sweet, right?  I bought it.  I’ve had success with graphic novels that come with albums; check out my review of Solid State.

When I bought the book, I didn’t look closely at the sticker on the front or read the back cover at all.  I just wanted some Lemire and a Downie album, so as I sat down to read the book and listen to the album, you can imagine my surprise when I found out that the book is a true story about a young boy named Chanie Wenjack that died in an attempt to walk 400 miles home from a residential school in Canada in the 1960’s.

Residential schools were created by the Canadian government in an attempt to assimilate indigenous children of the nation.  About 150,00 children were placed in residential schools, many taken from their homes.  There is a great deal that I do not know about residential schools in Canada as I have just discovered them, but the information is out there, and Downie and Lemire have dedicated time and effort to education and reconciliation.  The sticker on the cover has the site www.secretpath.ca which you should check out for more info.  Also, just Google Chanie Wenjack for more information on the foundation, the cause, and Chanie’s life.

I know that I’m not doing this project justice with any number of words I can use here in a review, but I’ll tell you that my experience with the book and album is not one that I’ll quickly forget.  I listened to each track of the album as I read the book.

Until the end of Secret Path, there are no words except the words to Gord Downie’s haunting lyrics.  Pair the music with Lemire’s large water-color pages, and you get a book that tells the story of a boy that you know is going to die on his attempted journey home, and you can’t look away.

There have been a number of times this past year that I have questioned humanity.  This is one of those times.

I would like to personally thank Gord Downie and Jeff Lemire for telling this tale and spreading this cause.  In a short interview I watched during my short, Lemire mentioned that this process was the most emotional he had become ever working on a project, and if you know the works of Lemire, that’s saying a lot, but when you read Secret Path, you will understand.

I apologize if this review seems disheveled at all or leaves you wanting more.  The content took me off my game a bit, and I can’t stop thinking about Chanie.  I hope I’ve given you a few avenues to do more research for yourself.

This is normally where I say “Happy Reading!” but this is not. However, it’s important reading.  It’s human reading.

Eric

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