"Susceptible" by Geneviève Castrée

Goglu is a French Canadian girl who lives with her alcoholic mother and resentful stepfather.  All her life she has been a child surrounded by grownups.  Goglu keeps to herself, her life full of sadness and dreams of breaking free from the troubled lifestyle of her mother.   But as she grows older she escapes into a life of punk rock and drugs.  She tries to start fresh with her biological father on the other side of the country but she just cannot escape the turmoil.

Susceptible by Geneviève Castrée is a coming of age memoir that speaks to what happens to children when the adults that are entrusted with their well-being aren’t up for the task.  This graphic novel is beautifully drawn and heartbreakingly wonderful.  It is painful, touching, hopeful, and mesmerizing.

I had not heard of Castrée until I read CBC Books' 10 Canadian Women You Need to Read.  She has been drawing all of her life though has never studied art formally, and at 32 years of age, this is her seventh book from Drawn & Quarterly.  The incredible drawings and small, handwritten text jumped off the screen at me and though I’m not a reader of graphic novels, I knew I had to give this one a try.

This book was so difficult to read and this was before I knew that it was a memoir.  The character of Goglu, her sad face, the rage of her mother, the hatred of her stepfather, they all jump off the page at you and hit you at your core.  Some pages are filled with comic panels, some pages have just one drawing, and they work together for a meaningful and touching story.  You can feel the author putting all of her into the pages.

Since graphic novels aren’t something I usually read, I can’t comment about this book in relation to the genre.  But I will say that this grabbed me from the beginning and I read it straight through.   It wasn’t what I was expecting from a graphic novel at all.  I agree with CBC Books, Castrée is someone that you need to read.


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