Book Review by Kevin Wolf
I recommend this black and white graphic novel which is narrated in the first person by Iris. Starting in 1989 Iris’ mom, Gina, becomes a Jehovah’s Witness. Gina’s live-in boyfriend is skeptical about the Witnesses. Iris initially joins her mother’s new belief system through supporting “evidence” in the apocalyptic messages in her childhood Narnia books by C.S. Lewis. Iris finds the Kingdom Hall meetings tame relative to the end-times that they’re supposed to be awaiting. Iris becomes frustrated in her teen years, flees the conservatism of her mom’s religion, and turns to illicit drugs to fit in with her new friends.
Before the rebellion, Iris explains that “the sky over my town is grey and ordinary—for now!.” Just being asked to go out for pizza by a teen Witness is fraught with avoiding anything not permitted; the Elder Rickett’s son feels he must explain over several panels, “It’s a group thing. And it’ll be chaperoned.” Iris seemed excited at the prospect of a pizza date and disappointed about the chaperoning and says, “I’m sorry, I can’t.” Walking away she thinks, “I have to get out of here.” Iris declares she’s leaving the church, which her mother thinks is “gambling with your eternal life.” This Witness life was only background for the book, which now begins in earnest to follow Iris’s own trials and tribulations.
As much as Iris would like to get away, she doesn’t get far. Iris, 17, wants to move in with her boyfriend, 18, before college. But he’s just not ready to commit to a long term relationship. She broken-heartedly breaks up with him. She works in a fast food joint. The remainder of the book is her last year in high school as she becomes more and more alienated from her life, other’s expectations for her and her responsibilities.
One day while at school Iris takes an acid (LSD) micro-dot provided by a friend. This becomes her only way to escape her childhood hometown. By the end of the day she discovers the book’s title when “the sky has this weird, luminous quality” and the world seems to melt and flutter like a Salvador Dali painting (reviewers metaphor, not the authors). If there was to be color brought into this graphic novel, here’s where it would fit. The days and events that follow becomes one long fall down the rabbit hole. This graphic novel provides an excellent example of how one could think illicit drugs would fill the boredom and lack of direction in life; but drug abuse is more likely to result in losing all control over one’s own life. I’m looking forward to this book’s sequel which, based on a closing excerpt, seems to carry Iris into rehab and hopefully beyond.