Today’s book is a graphic novel, maybe an emphasis on ‘graphic’ since there’s a ton of trigger warnings and it is far from a lighthearted read. Regardless, I do hope you will pick it up because it is an important read.
Fights is the visceral and deeply affecting memoir of artist/author Joel Christian Gill, chronicling his youth and coming of age as a Black child in a chaotic landscape of rough city streets and foreboding backwoods.
Propelled into a world filled with uncertainty and desperation, young Joel is pushed toward using violence to solve his problems by everything and everyone around him. But fighting doesn’t always yield the best results for a confused and sensitive kid who yearns for a better, more fulfilling life than the one he was born into, as Joel learns in a series of brutal conflicts that eventually lead him to question everything he has learned about what it truly means to fight for one’s life.
A review copy was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
t/w: dead animal, death, blood, physical violence, profanity, abuse, sexual assault, racism
This is a memoir written in the form of a graphic novel about a light-skinned black man from a poor family, raised with violence all around him.
Nothing about this book is light. If you’re looking for a light, fun and easy read, this is not a book you should pick up now, but I do recommend that you save it to read in the future.
This book sheds light on how trauma affects everyone and how children, especially, absorb the behaviour of their surroundings. It is definitely a wake up call, especially when violence, bullying and abuse cases are going up everywhere in the world.
In this book, the author uses a kindling fire above the characters as a visual representation of anger, of course, but I also understood it as events that eventually add together to cause someone to burst.
From a stylistic point of view, it does a great job in censorship, especially the scenes of sexual assault since it is a graphic novel. It is handled carefully, with a pitch black scene and speech bubbles.
Although this book is a memoir, some characters were not exactly real but a combination of different people in the author’s life. Though the ending was heartbreaking for me, since I really, really appreciated the character. But it also emphasised on the importance of checking up on our friends, especially those who were always the calm, levelheaded one in most situations.
It isn’t a preachy book, but it does make you reflect, especially when you see children bullying one another and picking up abusive and harmful behaviours from their parents. It’s definitely our duty to heal from our traumas so we won’t pass it on to anyone else.