Cathy G.'s Book Posts
Hello everyone! I'm back with the comic recommendations, summer edition!
My Brother's Husband: Volume 1 by Gengoroh Tagame, 352 pages, Pantheon Graphic Novels, 2017
Age Recommendation: Teen
Story Summary: Yaichi is a single father raising his young daughter Kana alone in Japan. Everything is status quo, until Mike comes to visit -- Mike, who is Canadian, gay, friendly, and was married to Yaichi's twin brother, Ryoji. Ryoji has just passed away, and Mike is visiting Japan to grieve and connect with his husband's past. Getting to know his brother's widower wasn't something Yaichi ever expected to do, but for the sake of his daughter, he is going to try his best.
Intro: A slice-of-life fiction narrative, My Brother's Husband is a story about family, cultural differences, and what gets said and goes unsaid. Mike is an out gay man, which is uncomfortable and confusing for Yaichi at first. But Yaichi's daughter Kana loves Mike, and wants to know everything about him, forcing Yaichi to come face-to-face with his biases.
Theme 1: Confronting Prejudices. My Brother's Husband confronts prejudices in clear and honest ways. Mike describes and explains what it is to be gay to Kana, which is as equally a learning opportunity for Yaichi. The graphic novel confronts the nuanced and insidious qualities of homophobia. It also confronts family structures, race, public opinion, and other social issues. The subtleties of prejudice come out throughout the book, slowly and carefully explaining the misconceptions that different cultures and people can hold. Kana's role as a young child trying to understand the world, who is then confronted by prejudicial ideas, makes for a fruitful perspective.
Theme 2: Family Complexity. Even in title alone, My Brother's Husband presents an idea of family outside the clear-cut nuclear dynamic. Yaichi is a single work-at-home father raising his young daughter alone. Before his twin brother died, he had been estranged from him, and begins to learn more about his brother's life through Mike, the man he loved. This book shows that family can be difficult yet rewarding.
Theme 3: Cultural Differences. Mike is from Canada, and with him comes a Canadian sensibility. His comfortable and open demeanor is abrasive to Yaichi's Japanese upbringing, who finds things like hugs inappropriate. It's through these confrontations that Yaichi begins to see how his cultural context shaped his perception of gay people, and the rules that society lives by, which may or may not be right.
Should I Read It?: For readers who enjoy slice-of-life narrative, this book is for you! Rather than accosting expectations, My Brother's Husband eases its readers into a quiet understanding of prejudices. It's a wonderfully human story about compassion, contemporary gay life, grief of a loved one and familial support.