Plenty of people or ‘experts’ will tell you journal writing can be therapeutic, that putting your thoughts and emotions on a piece of paper could be healing. But not everybody is fond of words, so some choose to draw their feelings. Like Elodie Durand in her graphic novel memoir ‘Parenthesis’, where she recalls her painful journey of living with epilepsy.
For someone who doesn’t know much about epilepsy, Durand’s book is engaging and her simple black-and-white doodles starkly draw out the loneliness of experiencing a debilitating condition. Still in her early twenties when the epileptic attacks begin, Durand suffers severe memory loss and finds the simplest tasks hard to accomplish. Between constant visits to doctors, psychiatrists and the excess sleep caused by the drugs she is on, the author finds little time left for anything else.
‘Parenthesis’ has a sombre, gloomy mood throughout, with the protagonist struggling to come to terms with her situation. The artwork includes some rough drawings which Durand implies are from the time she was undergoing treatment, they resemble scribbles one would make when anxious, the strokes look lost and filled with angst… expressing the creator’s despair over their predicament. The graphic novel format helps readers understand epilepsy in a way a textbook never can, conveying the kind of toll it takes not just on the patient, but also their family. In Durand’s case it is her parents who take care of her and keep a check on her round-the-clock.
Narrated largely in a chronological sequence, the memoir is easy to follow and can be read in one go. However, since there’s a lot of personal trauma involved, I took my time with it. It’s a 4/5 from me.
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