Non-Fiction at a Glance

Life is Beautiful

Hello, Me Pretty
Line Gamache

conundrum press
$15
paper
64pp
978-1-894994-23-1

This translation of Te malade, toi! is a perfect example of the strengths of the graphic novel medium. It immerses the reader immediately in the emotional and physical world of its characters, in this case a working-class Montreal family whose youngest daughter, Josée, is born mentally handicapped and spends her life “in a kind of dream world. To her, life is beautiful.” Visually, Gamache’s flattened perspective and naïve style are deceptively simple; in fact each panel is packed with information that places the story firmly in its time and place. You can almost hear the period pop songs playing in the background. Politics are touched upon without being hammered: Josée’s francophone family finds it difficult to find French-language care in the West Island at that time, which leads to a mention of the FLQ, although in the typically benign tone of the book as a whole Josée’s sister says “I think they went a bit too far!”

Young readers will come away from Hello, Me Pretty with an unforced message of tolerance and the value of difference; all readers will come away charmed and moved. mRb

Ian McGillis writes about books and visual arts for the Montreal Gazette. He is the author of the bestselling novel A Tourist’s Guide to Glengarry, and is currently working on a memoir about life as an obsessive fan of soul, reggae, and hip-hop.

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