Author: Sarah W. Searle
Publish Date: Graphic Universe TM
Publisher: May 7, 2019
Catalog ID: ISBN-10: 154154529X
Where to buy: https://lernerbooks.com/shop/show/17533
Author website: http://www.swinsea.com/projects/sincerely-harriet/
Guest Review by Erin Partridge @2littlewings
This graphic novel really capitalizes on the potential for letting the images tell just as much of the story as words; the facial expressions, especially around the eyes of the characters, really brings them to life and helps the reader to connect with their experiences. The sensitivity in the drawings encourages close observation; looking beyond what is immediately visible at first glance. The book encourages the kind of sensitivity and empathy needed when interacting with those experiencing invisible and chronic illness. Graphic medicine and bibliotherapy enthusiasts will appreciate the references within this graphic novel to the use of a work of fiction as a means to stimulate conversation about illness; Pearl, the older adult character, talks about reading The Secret Garden as a means to talk about illness with her son who had Polio.
Though we learn a bit about the sacrifices of Harriet’s parents, the primary relationship depicted is between the main character Harriet and Pearl. Pearl is an older adult, former librarian who is “curating [her family’s] memories through time capsules” in the form of photobooks; their relationship is such a beautiful example of mutual, intergenerational support. Harriet finds a friend and a creative outlet and Pearl processes her family history and engages in purposeful work. By the end of the book, the reader is not sure who helped who more.
The story of Harriet & Pearl encourages us to think beyond our immediate family when seeking support for chronic or invisible illnesses. It also suggests several creative coping outlets that readers may find useful. On a personal note, I would love to hear more from Harriet—how she continues to develop her voice and learns to sublimate her wild imagination into narrative form.
Erin Partridge, PhD, ATR-BC is a board-certified, registered art therapist and researcher based in California. She is interested in the use of images to express our experiences and the use of images as a form of data.