Displacement…new from Lucy Knisley


Knisley, Lucy. Displacement: A Travelogue. Seattle: Fantagraphics Books, Inc., 2015. 978-1-60699-810-6. 156 p. $19.99. Gr. 9 and up.

Lucy Knisley, queen of the graphic travelogue, returns with this earnest account of accompanying her 90-something grandparents on a cruise in 2012. She manages her grandmother’s dementia and her grandfather’s physical limitations (including incontinence) with outward calm and cheerful patience. Internally, though, she wrestles with anxiety, frustration, and sorrow over their declining health. She brings along a copy of her grandfather’s unpublished World War II memoir as a conversation starter and connection to her grandparents’ youth. At the end of each chapter, she includes an excerpt and illustrates the scene, cleverly reminding readers that old people weren’t always old. As Knisley writes, the trip she chronicled in The Age of License was about independence, sex, youth, and adventure. This trip is about respect for her elders, sympathy, mortality, and familial love. It’s very different, to be sure, but it depicts an equally important aspect of growing up. It’s a welcome addition to Lucy Knisley’s outstanding coming-of-age travelogues.
914; Travelogue            Amy V. Pickett, Ridley High School

The contemplative full-page panel on page 61, in which she reflects on how her family shows affection, would work well as part of a mini-lesson on reading comics. And, is it too soon to start looking forward to Something New: Tales from a Makeshift Bride, coming in May?

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!