An Age of License


Knisley, Lucy. An Age of License: A Travelogue. Seattle: Fantagraphics Books, Inc., 2014. 978-1-60699-768-0. 189 p. $19.99. Gr. 10 and up.

In 2011, graphic memoirist Lucy Knisley had an opportunity to travel solo to Norway, Sweden, Germany, and France. The result is this delightful travelogue that recounts the pre-trip jitters, appearance at a comics convention, romance, visits with friends and family, cultural gaffes, cute cats, and delicious food that she experienced along the way. In France, an acquaintance introduces her to the expression “L’Age Licence,” or “age of license,” a time for young people to experiment with their lives and careers before settling down. The phrase resonates with Knisley, who contemplates the intersections of youth, expectations, and obligations in her own life as she prepares to return to New York City. One especially affecting panel shows a Venn Diagram of an Age of License and an Age of Responsibility, with Knisley in the overlapping middle. Ultimately, after arriving home, she comes to accept that “you give yourself license to make changes – to take risks … And hope for the best – for a better age.” It’s a wise sentiment and a beautiful little book.

914; Travelogue            Amy V. Pickett, Ridley High School

This book would be fun to booktalk with college prep classes, and I would happily recommend it to any student considering a gap year. It should be noted that in France, Knisley enjoys her share of wine tastings as part of her cultural experience. I am really looking forward to the publication of Displacement: A Travelogue in February!

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