Booklist | Booklist Staff | March 15, 2006
Katin’s WE ARE ON OUR OWN receives rave starred reviewed from Booklist!
The burgeoning popularity of graphic novels has opened the door to new voices with compelling stories and artistic skills to match; for example, 63-year-old animator Katin, whose remarkable debut this is. It is a memoir recounting how she and her mother faked their deaths and fled Budapest after the Nazi occupied the city. With forged papers obtained from a black marketer, they escaped to the countryside in the guise of a servant girl and her illegitimate child. Katin relates their harrowing lives there and her mother’s desperate search for her missing husband after the war. Brief passages set decades later reveal how Katin’s traumatic experiences left her without any religious faith to pass on to her own child. The events she reports are powerful in themselves, and her sensitive, softly expressive drawings and straightforward storytelling, both reminiscent of Raymond Briggs in Ethel & Ernest (1999), about an English couple during the same period, are likewise effective in conveying violent wartime battles, her mother’s emotionally distressing choices, and rare quiet interludes. Moreover, Katin’s understatement makes the story all the more chilling and heartbreaking. This impressive book belongs in all serious graphic novel collections and is also a natural for Jewish studies. ––Gordon Flagg
YA/M: Depicts rapes, pillaging, and warfare, but the story will move teens. GF.