Library Journal Review
The global refugee crisis receives a personal, historical, and deeply compassionate treatment from American cartoonist Fitzgerald (Hungover Bear and Friends) in this multilayered and beautifully written reflection on her years teaching art classes in Berlin refugee shelters. Recounting her interactions with students while faithfully re-creating their artwork, Fitzgerald illustrates their agency, optimism, and determination in the face of terrible trauma. As much a meditation on the present as on Berlin's history, in particular as a destination for Jewish refugees in the 1920s, this work weaves a dreamlike journey that takes readers from the intimacy of a child's drawing to the global impacts of civil wars while critiquing the role of design and aesthetics in oppression and propaganda. Fitzgerald herself is depicted in almost every panel conveying her struggles as a teacher and chronicler of her students' stories. Warm and occasionally surreal black-and-white drawings profoundly and respectfully humanize people too often rendered as statistics while encouraging contemplation of a more humane future. VERDICT An important contribution to the literature on conflict and diaspora and a microcosmic companion to Ai Weiwei's documentary Human Flow. Highly recommended. -Michael Dudley, Univ. of Winnipeg Lib., Man. © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Booklist Review
Teaching recent refugees at an inflatable tent shelter in Berlin, New Yorker cartoonist Fitzgerald quickly rethought her seemingly mundane drawing-prompt to imagine the deep-sea world beneath a ship. For her students, many of whom had fled Syria and Afghanistan, boats were not places for adventure but dangerous steps in already precarious journeys. More innocuous prompts, asking students to draw their favorite foods or flowers, still led to illuminating conversations on the loved ones and former lives these people had lost. Fitzgerald pays tribute to her students, some of whom became friends, by relaying their stories here. Woven into her memoir, which she calls a collection of "surreal graphic nonfiction," are interludes about Joseph Roth's and Christopher Isherwood's writings on Berlin and her own observations of changes in German national politics and the country's welcoming attitude toward asylum seekers. Fitzgerald's somber, black-inked drawings are a good match to her serious, introspective tone but still leave room for lightness in the form of white space, expressive and smiling faces, and the off-the-page connections made through art.--Annie Bostrom Copyright 2018 Booklist