Week ending March 17, 2017
Knight, Paula. The Facts of Life. Pennsylvania State Univ. (Graphic Medicine). Mar. 2017. 240p. bibliog. ISBN 9780271078465. pap. $24.95. MEMOIR
Titles in the “Graphic Medicine” series have a reputation for featuring unique, if slightly rough-edged, content that touches on medical themes. This debut memoir from children’s author Knight (It Takes Two To T’wit T’woo) is an excellent example—a three-part account that feels slightly unfinished. Knight’s youth in the 1970s is effortlessly relatable, speckled with questions of sex, relationships, and self-discovery. Adulthood brings struggles with chronic pain and subfertility. As multiple pregnancies end in miscarriage, the author details her encounters with the British health-care system and her soul-searching about pursuing in vitro fertilization, which for her is likely to be invasive and unsuccessful. In the last act, she philosophizes on the societal, political, and personal implications of a life without children, emphasizing the negative aspects of “pronatalism.” Knight’s ambivalence about becoming a parent while balancing that desire with other aspects of her identity is fresh and astutely reported, but the final section is a bit disappointing.
Verdict Graphic memoirs thrive on candid and open storytelling, and Knight seems a bit quick to close the book. This emotionally honest and personal look into reproductive challenges, unfortunately, takes an awkward turn toward manifesto in its concluding arc.—Emilia Packard, Austin, TX