Swallow Me Whole

Swallow Me Whole

Book - 2008
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Swallow Me Whole is a love story carried by rolling fog, terminal illness, hallucination, apophenia, insect armies, secrets held, unshakeable faith, and the search for a master pattern to make sense of one's unraveling. Two adolescent stepsiblings hold together amidst schizophrenia, obsessive compulsive disorder, family breakdown, animal telepathy, misguided love, and the tiniest nugget of hope that the heart, that sanity, that order itself will take shape again.
Publisher: Marietta, Ga. : Top Shelf ; [London] : [Diamond [distributor], [2008], ©2008
ISBN: 9781603090339
Branch Call Number: 741.5973 Po
Description: 206 unnumbered pages : all illustrations ; 25 cm


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Sep 06, 2016

Ruth and Perry are a sister and brother who both have schizophrenia. (Unlike the popular misconception, schizophrenia is not multiple personality disorder. It's a mental illness that results in becoming cut off from reality, often experiencing hallucinations.) It seems the siblings' illness began manifesting in late elementary or middle school, but the bulk of this story takes place when they're teenagers. Ruth receives some medication, Perry does not. Neither of them is really okay, though Perry is better able to cope.

It's a dark, disturbing book - not because Powell uses the characters to shock the reader, but because of the reality of their lives given that neither receives appropriate treatment. However, I appreciated how Ruth and Perry are not just their disorders. They go to school, have jobs, and date. But as Ruth's illness progresses, it takes over.

Not one to read for entertainment, but definitely well-crafted literature.

Jan 24, 2014

I'm about halfway through and might need to give up, not for the story itself (it is really compelling!) but because I chose to borrow the eBook version of this graphic novel. Big mistake, at least for the Kindle version. The author's beautiful artwork and dialogue get missed because some of the conversations are very lightly written on the page or very tiny, making it difficult to read in electronic format. I find myself going back several pages at a time to see if I missed something. I'll need to check out the physical copy to finish the rest and give my poor eyes a break.

Aug 16, 2012

This was a pretty compelling, dark and quirky graphic novel.

Jul 17, 2012

I'm not much of a fan of graphic novels, but I really enjoyed this one.

Jul 01, 2012

One of the most haunting comics I've ever read. Excellent use of the medium to convey what it must feel like to be adrift in your own world while the real world marches on past you.

quagga Sep 26, 2009

Wow! A great coming-of-age story told in black and white graphic novel format. Perry and Ruth are teenaged siblings who are mentally ill. Their elderly grandmother, 'Memaw' - this is set in the American deep south - lives with them and is also mentally ill. Perry sees a tiny wizard on the end of his pencil who forces him to draw for secret mission purposes. Ruth hallucinates swarms of insects as well as keeping, and continually placing into order, jars of them in her room. Ruth eventually gets diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder (and has to take 6 pills at a time) but Perry's doctor just says that he is under too much stress.

There are funny parts, like where their biology teacher tells them that, thanks to the PTA, "to keep my job, I can't say anything rooted in scientific theory." Memaw tells Ruth that she understands about seeing things that other people don't. "I see god, after all... over by the back door." Ruth says, "WHAT--" and Memaw says, "just kidding."

There are lots of downright tragic elements to this story. It is remarkable in that it is much more than a tale of coping with mental illness, however. It is about the way that we get on with our lives in the best way that we can, no matter what challenges we face. Parents are fallible, as are teachers and police officers.

I was a bit baffled by the surreal ending the first time I read it but liked it even better upon a second reading.


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