‘Invisible Differences’ by Julie Dachez is a graphic novel about 27-year-old Marguerite, who struggles with social interactions both in her personal and professional life. People around her aren’t too kind and consider her weird, fueling her insecurities, she only begins to be believe in herself after learning she falls on the autism spectrum.
Reading this work can be a frustrating at times, especially if you are an introvert and identify with some of Marguerite’s traits, like of wanting to be home with a book instead of going to a party. It’s annoying to see people around the protagonist treat her like she is some circus specimen, just because she doesn’t dress stylishly and avoids friendships at work. The author in the graphic novel explains how there is very little awareness in France when it comes to autism. Regardless, a lot of Marguerite’s asocial behavior at work is absolutely harmless, she just prefers to keep to herself and is an excellent performer when it comes to her professional role. But since Marguerite is autistic, something she isn’t even aware of until she is 27, the anxiety and distress she suffers due to uncomfortable social interactions and situations is a lot more serious and pronounced. She is less tactical, has difficulties understanding innuendos and finds comfort in routine repetitive behavior. On the surface she may seem like just another introvert, but she also has neurological problems that are completely out of her control.
‘Invisible Differences’ is an essential read for those who know nothing about autism, it gives readers a fresh pair of eyes to see how inconvenient life can be when everybody is trying to impose their idea of ‘normal’ or ‘fun’ on someone else. The artwork is simple, smooth and has a whimsical French touch to it, making it an engaging read. The panels start off black-and-while, but slowly, as Marguerite starts to understand her condition and begins to accept herself for who she is, the pages begin to have more color, symbolic of the renewed zeal for life the protagonist experiences.
It’s a 4/5 from me.
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