The Best Memoirs of 2016
The inspiring real-life stories that changed the way we think—and read.
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216 pages; Arsenal Pulp Press
Available at:Amazon.com | Barnes & Noble | Apple Books | IndieBound
No words appear on the opening page of this graphic memoir. Instead, we see the silhouette of a woman climbing a hill that echoes the curve of the earth, toward a single tree at the top. Slung over the woman's shoulder is the outline of an object that could be an oversize duffle—suggestive of heavy emotional baggage. But here's the thing: That oval could also be a thought balloon waiting to be filled. On the following page, the first line of dialogue is written on a cloud: "I am Una." That simple declaration begins a searing indictment of sexual violence. Growing up in northern England in the '70s, Una saw the police spend years bungling the investigation of a serial killer who preyed mostly on prostitutes. Meanwhile, young Una learned to avert her gaze. "Girls had to be sexy, but not too sexy. ... They had to be careful not to let their breasts and thighs alarm people. ... Slut was the worst thing a girl could be." As a preteen, she suffered not only sexual abuse but also blistering shame, which made her believe she was damaged. But Una survived, and her book is a roar on behalf of women all over the world. Weaving her story together with headlines about the killer, crime statistics, images of disembodied paper doll clothes and stunningly beautiful drawings of nature, she fills our own thought balloons with more than words can express.
— Dawn Raffel