Swallow Me Whole

Swallow Me Whole

by Nate Powell
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

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,

See more details below

Overview

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.

Editorial Reviews

Douglas Wolk
Powell's flowing, impressionistic artwork, with its ravenous expanses of negative space, swirls the reader's perspective through his characters' perceptions and back out again. It might not be so bad in Ruth's buzzing, chirruping psychological landscape compared with the world the rest of us see, Powell suggests—but then again it might, and Perry's ability to channel his damage into art might give him an escape route that's closed off to his stepsister.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

Indy comic artist Powell, an Eisner-nominee, works full time with adults with developmental disabilities, which may have been an inspiration for Swallow Me Whole, a stand-alone graphic novel about two teenage stepsiblings with psychological problems. Ruth suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder and thinks she can hear insects speak, making it difficult for her to walk across grassy lawns but landing her a sweet internship in the natural history museum. Perry sometimes sees a tiny wizard who speaks to him about his destiny, which would be cute if this were a fantasy comic; instead, it's sadly tragic since Perry recognizes the wizard as nothing more than a troublesome hallucination. It should be obvious from the start that things will not end well. Dark inks and elongated whispering word balloons carry us into Ruth's world of voices and missing time, while experimental paneling masterfully conveys the characters' inner worlds and altered states. Powell's ultimate message remains unclear: is this a cautionary tale reminding ill teens to take their medication(s)? Or should we take a hopeful message away from Ruth's tragic story, knowing that one need not give in completely to one's delusions? (Oct.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
VOYA - Lisa Martincik
Ruth is afraid to walk across the lawn for fear of crushing insects. They captivate her, sometimes distracting her as they pour from ceiling vents, at other times providing order as she obsessively rearranges the bug jars in her room. Her brother, Perry, can relate, occasionally visited himself by a small wizard who commands him to draw. Their grandmother "Memaw," whose sickbed is their couch, seems to understand as well, but it might be the medication talking. Staying on top of school, finding a job, and getting a boyfriend are even more difficult when one sees the world differently from everybody else—especially when only Ruth can hear the sounds. Powell's largest work to date is also his most polished and ambitious. He gazes fearlessly into the dynamics of parents and siblings, school, long-term aged care, and mental illness, keeping the atmosphere real and tender and as messy as life. Expressive lettering spins (sometimes literally) across the page, clear and big and small and twisty and smudgy and plain depending on the tone of the dialogue, the inner monologue, the shouts, or the quiet musings, requiring more concentration to read when the situation is difficult or chaotic. Powell plays extensively with panel layouts as well, everything in service of the scene, as revealing of the characters' mental landscapes as their words. It is not difficult to follow: the characters and settings themselves are clearly delineated in delicate line work. The difficulty belongs to Perry and especially Ruth as they view an already complex world through the prism of mental illness. This book is dark and beautiful and provides no easy answers; depending on interpretation, the ending mayprovide no answer at all. Reviewer: Lisa Martincik
School Library Journal

Gr 10 Up

Powell has created a complex tale of two adolescent step-siblings struggling through the usual angst and discovery that occur during the teenage years. However, for Ruth and Perry, mental illness makes this time even more difficult. Ruth, who is at the center of the story, suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder and patterns of schizophrenia. Infatuated with insects, she keeps collections of them in jars in her room and is constantly arranging and rearranging them. She hallucinates that masses of insects surround her and fears stepping on any living thing. For Ruth, the simplest tasks present huge challenges. Perry fights his own demon as he tries to rid himself of a small wizard who persistently appears and makes him draw. The author's treatment of mental illness is realistic and sensitive. Readers are brought into the experiences of the characters and empathize with them. The relationships Ruth and Perry have with each other and with other family members are honest and lovingly portrayed. Every word in this graphic novel is carefully chosen, dialogue is realistic, and background "noise" masterfully done. Powell's detailed pen-and-ink drawings are well executed with lettering and images so brilliantly intertwined that they are one and the same. While the complexity and subject matter of Swallow Me Whole will not appeal to everyone, those teens who pick it up will discover a poignant story.-Lara McAllister, Halifax Public Libraries, Nova Scotia

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781603090339
Publisher:
Top Shelf Productions
Publication date:
12/02/2008
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
216
Sales rank:
414,938
Product dimensions:
6.80(w) x 9.60(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range:
16 - 18 Years

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >