Show Me the Map to Your Heart & Other Stories
16 August 2016 1 Comment
Author: John Cei Douglas
Summary: A collection of stories ranging from nostalgic coming of age tales to long distance relationships, being stranded on desert islands, coping with mental health problems and the childlike wonder of exploring fantasy worlds.
Rating: ★★★★☆ 4/5
Review: I picked this little book up at my local comic shop on a whim, and I’m utterly delighted with it. The whole book has this quiet, slowness about it. Reading it, i felt safe and warm and understood.
Several of the stories don’t have any words–no narration or dialogue–just the images of each frame to progress the story. I loved that, because it made me focus on the images more, to tease out what was happening through visuals alone. It also leaves the details of the story much more open to interpretation. Footnotes, for example, shows a couple in a long distance relationship gradually drifting apart, but without insight into their thoughts or conversations it’s left to the reader to decide how and why they ended up drifting apart.
One of my favourite stories was Living Underwater, which uses the idea of living underwater as a metaphor for depression and mental health problems. How you can slip into the water without realising it’s happening, how it can become an isolating ocean, and how you might be able to find the direction to dry land.
The title story, Show Me the Map to Your Heart, is wonderful. It puts a fantasy adventure twist on a new relationship, to explore the ideas surrounding discovering each other and yourself. The middle pages of the book are a large fold-out image mapping the trail the lovers take, it’s quite beautiful. And this story included my favourite line of the entire book:
Her heart was hole but lost
She was so caring she had left pieces of it behind, not thinking that one day she might need them herself.
This book was as comforting as a soft blanket and a cup of tea. I felt like I had those from reading alone, and for a book to evoke that kind of calm feeling was lovely to experience.