Today I read my first graphic novel. Okay, actually, it was a graphic memoir.

At A Crossroads by Kate T. Williamson (cover)Graphic books have ever really appealed to me. First, they’re generally about things I’m not so interested in. Second, they’re not substantial enough for me to feel like I’ve accomplished something when I’m done. And finally, I feel like they’re cheating, like I can’t finish it and go, “Hey, I just read a book in an hour!”. Kind of like a picture book for adults. Which is fine, but I’ve just never been interested.

For some reason, I felt like reading one today. This urge is not one I can explain, but I went with it. The graphic book I chose was At A Crossroads: Between a Rock and My Parents’ Place by Kate T. Williamson. I’m not sure it’s really a typical graphic book; for example, each page is pretty much just one page, unlike the others I’ve looked at where each page is formatted more like a comic strip.

At A Crossroads is the story of the 23 months the author spent living at her parents’ house after graduating college and living for a year in Japan. It speaks to those of us who have taken time at any point to wander a bit from the straight-and-narrow paths of our lives. Williamson encounters an infestation of squirrels, fends of her parents’ friends’ inquisitive natures, attends a Cher concert just because it allegedly involves 8 tractor trailer loads of sets and costumes, and hangs out with her high school friends in her hometown.

And yet, it isn’t a story of depression or desperation. To me, it was more just a story about being at a certain point in your life, knowing it will change but not being sure how or when. I can definitely relate.

Williamson’s watercolors made the book for me. They’re beautiful, yes, but they also match perfectly with the text to deliver a package story. The book wouldn’t work without the pictures. Which, I guess, is the point of a graphic novel/memoir.

I’m still not interested even the slightest bit in manga; nor am I impressed by graphic retellings of classics like Shakespeare. I don’t want to read blood-and-guts tales or stories about superheroes. But I guess I’m not against all graphic books.

Have you ever read a book that changed your mind about a genre? Is it easy or difficult for you to branch out beyond what you normally read?

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