Displacement:A Travelogue by Lucy Knisley

fpoDisplacement. Finished 10-10-15, rating 4.75/5, graphic memoir, 161 pages, pub. 2015

In her graphic memoirs, New York Times-best selling cartoonist Lucy Knisley paints a warts-and-all portrait of contemporary, twentysomething womanhood, like writer Lena Dunham (Girls). In the next installment of her graphic travelogue series, Displacement, Knisley volunteers to watch over her ailing grandparents on a cruise. (The book s watercolors evoke the ocean that surrounds them.) In a book that is part graphic memoir, part travelogue, and part family history, Knisley not only tries to connect with her grandparents, but to reconcile their younger and older selves. She is aided in her quest by her grandfather s WWII memoir, which is excerpted. Readers will identify with Knisley s frustration, her fears, her compassion, and her attempts to come to terms with mortality, as she copes with the stress of travel complicated by her grandparents frailty.  from Goodreads

I wasn’t sure I wanted to read another Knisley book since I wasn’t a fan of her highly lauded French Milk, but when I started to see some of the reviews I decided to give her another shot.  I’m so glad I did because this was a great graphic memoir of Knisley, 27, volunteering to go with her grandparents, 91 & 93, on a Caribbean cruise.  What could have been all fluff and jokes turned out to be a very real and mature look at aging and what we do for the people we love when they reach this point in their lives.

The grands, married 67 years, signed up for a cruise through their community home and their children were worried because they needed so much help.  Knisley decided to volunteer herself as their aide and in return received a lot of admiration and a free cruise.  She took along her Grandfather’s war memoir and we were able to experience, along with Knisley, her grandfather as a young soldier at the same time as we were seeing him as an elderly man who can’t control much of what goes on.  Knisley signs on without realizing how difficult and exhausting it would be to take care and keep track of them but she does her best and she does it with love.  I’m a sucker for grandparents and seeing her love for her grandparents shine through the pages gave me new insight into the author. 

Growing old is no joke and much of the book was sad and sometimes difficult to read, but Knisley’s great illustrations and light touch with the storytelling made this one hard to put down.  I pretty much loved everything about it.  Even with the heavy reality of aging it managed to convey the love of family and this made it a very satisfying read.