Graphic Novel Review 159/365: Calling Dr. Laura

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

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

Title: Calling Dr. Laura: A Graphic Memoir 

Author(s): Nicole J. Georges

Publisher: Mariner/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2013)

Age Rating: 17+ (13+ if you think it’s appropriate)

I spent 11 hours at the hospital with my wife yesterday.

She has a couple of serious chronic illnesses, and she was displaying symptoms that were out of the ordinary for her, so we went to the hospital to get things checked out, as a precaution.  You can never be too careful, you know?

Over the course of 11 hours of conversations, a battery of blood work, and CT scan, there was nothing determined to be causing the newly displayed symptoms, so we went home with a list of doctors to follow up with and piece of mind that none of her illnesses had progressed.

While there, however, we took phone calls from family members inquiring about Kori’s progression.  While waiting for the doctors to complete the release papers, we fielded two calls that were noteworthy.  One was from my mom, and after I told her that they found nothing of dire consequence, she said “Kori needs to find better doctors.”  I didn’t want to tell her that we have some of the best in the country at The University of Chicago for her illnesses.  The other was from her parents who proceeded to tell Kori, a pharmacist, about how it was probably just a med she stopped taking a couple of weeks ago or maybe an antihistamine…they also said “Just glad you’re feeling better” when no such proclamation was made.

She wasn’t feeling better; she was just happy to get news of no new progression.

Point being, we have issues with our parents, as do most people our age.  We were raised in a world that is eons different than the one in which they were raised.  Many of them had parents that believed a woman’s place was waiting for her husband to come home to wait on him hand and foot; many of them had parents that fought against the Civil Rights Movement; many of them had parents whose grandparents might have remembered the Civil War!  And at times, we need to be reminded of that, but we also need reminding that our feelings and actions are justified, and we want validation from those that raised us, loved us, and sent us out into the world.  It’s not their fault that they are bad listeners; they had parents that were raised to repress, regress, and hear what they needed to hear to move on.

This is why Calling Dr. Laura by Nicole J. Georges in such a powerful book.  In her graphic novel, Georges lets us into her life: a life not completely acknowledged by her mother.  And her father?  Well, Nicole was told that he died when she was a baby, but he wasn’t dead; it was just a lie concocted by her mother to spare her feelings.  Repress, regress.

I fell in love with Georges’ story-telling with Fetch, her newest book about her growing up during a 15-year-span with a pup named Beija.  It’s amazing.  Please read my review of it here, and don’t judge when I talk about the tears rolling down my face.  The book’s third act is moving, so moving, that if you don’t cry, you might be a robot…get checked.

By reading Calling Dr. Laura second, I don’t necessarily feel that I did Georges’ story-telling a disservice because while they are both auto-biographical works, and much of the time-frames overlap, this book is about her human relationships, while Fetch focuses primarily on the relationship with the dog.  Put them together, and I think you get to know Georges pretty well.  Actually, I feel weird calling her Georges because it feels natural for me to say Nicole, but I just read this list of pro-review rules, and it says to never use the author’s first name, but to hell with that, it’s Nicole’s fault for letting me into her word.  And as readers, we certainly are, both Fetch and Calling Dr. Laura are lengthy, and I would not have it any other way.  I love every detail that we get in these books.  I want to spend time with Nicole, her friends, her dogs, and her family.  It makes my complaining about phone calls in the hospital less isolated.

These books have inspired me to look into creating a graphic memoir of my own.  We all have these stories.  And if you don’t, then you have a normal family, and that sucks.  Familial conflict builds character, and yes, it sucks at the time, but looking back at the stories I have about my parents, and the stories that Kori has about her parents…they would make some great graphic memoir.

I bought Fetch at Quimby’s in Chicago a couple of weeks before Nicole J. Georges was going to be there promoting Fetch last September, and I didn’t get to reviewing it until mid-October, so I’m upset that I missed out on meeting her, but I’m glad that I didn’t, because now, if I ever get to meet her, my thank you will be much more honest and thoughtful.

Fetch made my list of 5 best of my first 100 reviews, and I think Calling Dr. Laura will make the second 100 list.  Georges has a knack for memoir.  And I look forward to many more books.

And how the heck do you get Rachel Maddow to write blurbs on the back of all your books?!  So cool.  I want a blurb on the next one…but only if it’s next to Maddow’s!  🙂

Happy reading!

Eric

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