Originally serialized as a webcomic, Ata’s debut tells the story of Isaac, an Arab-American college student struggling with epilepsy. His seizures, and the auras that precede them, leave him exhausted and often bedridden. A series of unsympathetic doctors are convinced his episodes are merely anxiety attacks. Meanwhile, he’s on the verge of failing several of his classes due to unavoidable absences, and none of his friends seem to understand. Ata draws Isaac’s good days in sunny yellows and soft pinks. His seizures attack in vicious spikes of black and red, often shaking him for 10 or more pages at a time. The only warnings are the auras, visually represented as a net of knives hanging over Isaac’s head. Ata’s art is terrific at depicting the hellish seizures, but the overall story, which takes place mostly within Isaac’s thoughts as he heads for a somewhat anticlimactic breakthrough, suffers from a lack of grounding and detail. Agent: Judy Hansen, the Hansen Agency. (Oct.)
Visceral, hilarious, utterly human, and unlike anything you’ve ever read. An explosive debut.
Mis(h)adra is singular, vibrant, and raw; Iasmin’s depiction of epilepsy lives at an eye-opening intersection of culture and youth.
A powerful story about not only physical pain but also the pain of self-doubt and hopelessness. Mis(h)adra beautifully illustrates the struggle to stand up to that inner hopelessness, and come out the other end stronger than ever.
At once emotionally raw and aesthetically elaborate, bursting with style....transporting…beautiful.
Combining the Arabic words misadra and mish adra (seizure, I cannot), the title of this first graphic novel from artist and game designer Ata hints at protagonist Isaac's experience with epilepsy. For the Arab American college student, managing seizures brought on by the illness while balancing classes and a social life has become impossible, and his father, who is in denial about the condition, doesn't help. Even the doctors refuse to believe his descriptions of the disease. It's only after the support of a friend helps to break through his despair, and he empathizes with others who share his battle, that Isaac finds the strength to choose life over death. Crafted from personal experience, with many scenes having originally appeared in a web comic featured by epilepsy awareness advocates, Ata's story, accompanied by striking, blocky art heavily influenced by shojo manga, takes Isaac's meditations on misery to a new level. "Normal life" appears in pale, washed-out pinks and yellows, while the jarring epilepsy attacks bombard him—now a bright red figure on black background—with glowing blue-green daggers bearing eyes. VERDICT Ata's artistry can help readers understand how living with illness changes everything, and yet life can go on with new insights, accommodations, and help from friends.—MC
The title of Ata's semiautobiographical graphic novel, a mash-up of the Arabic words misadra (or "seizure") and mish adra ("I cannot") is fitting. The story follows Isaac, a college student who feels obstructed at every turn by his epilepsy. Condescending doctors, an unsympathetic father, failing grades, and inconsiderate neighbors (whose loud parties interfere with his sleep and trigger more seizures) only compound his problems. Afraid of being a burden, Isaac keeps most of his fellow students at arm's length, but after losing an eye during a seizure, he meets Jo, who pushes him to open up. Ata skillfully conveys Isaac's solitary anguish at coping with a body that betrays him. The protagonist's expressive inner monologues contrast with his terse conversations with other students, in which he attempts to deflect attention from himself. The color scheme is appropriately discordant, and the manga-style images are haunting, frenetic, and beautiful. Even the placement of the panels at times is chaotic, and during Isaac's seizures, beadlike ropes and daggers with eyes menace him. VERDICT Ata expertly depicts the experience of living with chronic illness. Readers of intimate examinations of physical or emotional conditions, such as Katie Green's Lighter Than My Shadow, will appreciate this unforgettable title.—Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journal
Artist, illustrator, and game designer Ata presents the story of a college student struggling with epilepsy while trying to live a normal life.It's been five years since the first seizure, and life isn't getting any easier for Isaac. His frazzled, fragile state has him missing school while classmates spread rumors that he's on drugs. In fact, he is on drugs—pills to battle his epilepsy. Isaac is painfully aware of his illness and its triggers (lack of sleep, intense physical and emotional stress, and even anxiety about epilepsy), but unfortunately, most of the people around him (roommates, teachers, doctors, family) underplay the severity of his condition. Frustrated by the limitations his illness imposes on him, Isaac pushes himself to enjoy something close to a normal life—going to parties and drinking with friends—which eventually leads to a violent seizure that lands him in the hospital. But the injury also earns the attention of friend-of-a-friend Jo, who feels an intense sympathy for Isaac's plight. But will even Jo's efforts be enough to help Isaac push through the daily agony of his condition? Ata renders the story in a vibrant manga style, most strikingly depicting Isaac's seizures as a swarm of floating daggers, each blade bearing a single eye and trailing a long string of beads, the weapons encircling Isaac in hypnotizing patterns before slicing him to shreds. The details of Isaac's illness feel decidedly lived-in, and Isaac's exhaustion with the struggle required to live his life is palpably, dramatically realized. But while the specifics of the story are compellingly unique (if occasionally flirting with opacity), the arc feels overly familiar. Nevertheless, the spotlight shone on an underrepresented demographic is commendable.Big and stylish—of particular interest to those dealing with epilepsy or wanting to know more about the condition.