At 49, cartoonist Marian Henley hasn't committed to marrying the man with whom she has been dating for seven years. But as the Big 5-0 looms, she realizes that above all else she wants a child. Her story follows the heartbreaking ups and downs of going through the international adoption process; deciding when it's time to grow up and maybe even get married; and in the end, it's the story of a daughter's relationship with her father, and how becoming a mother finally led her to understand him. The Shiniest Jewel is a touching narrative, accompanied by Marian's winsome drawings, that beautifully weaves together her realizations about the joy, and sometimes heartbreak, of building a family.
This was the first time I'd read a graphic memoir or novel, and while I liked it, I don't know that I will read another one. The story didn't disappoint, and I really enjoyed the artwork, but there seemed to be so much more to the story that you miss by reading it in this seemingly abridged format. To me, it felt like the story skimmed along the surface without the details. For example, I wanted to know more about how she found her adoption agency, more about international adoption procedures and what she thought of Russia beyond the poverty.
I really enjoyed the artwork though. I thought the illustrations were full of emotion and very descriptive. You really got to know the characters through their facial expressions, and I found myself laughing more than once.
The Shiniest Jewel is a heartfelt and heartwarming story, but the format wasn't my cup of tea. Even so, the story is compelling enough that I hope a follow up book is published so that I can see how William, Marian and Rick are getting along! 3.5 stars
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