After you take in this summer’s new Wonder Woman movie, read the crazier-than-fiction backstory on the creation of America’s favorite female superhero. Jill Lepore’s The Secret History of Wonder Woman traces Wonder Woman’s creation by William Moulton Marston, who also invented the lie detector test (lasso of truth, anyone?). Marston’s unusual family arrangement is a story unto itself, and following the ups and downs of his personal life and career makes for a fascinating summer read.
In exploring the pre- and post-WWII American cultural landscape and examining Marston’s connection to major feminists of the period, including Margaret Sanger, Lepore nicely frames Wonder Woman’s rise and examines the various parties who competed over—sometimes for control, sometimes to censor—this rising icon. Request a copy.
I hadn’t before read a graphic novel (or in this case, a graphic memoir), so Kristen Radtke’s Imagine Wanting Only This was new territory for me. I was drawn to this book because of its topic, rather than its format. In it, Radtke explores her fascination with architectural ruins, relating them to her own sense of the impermanence of life and her grief over losing a close relative. Never feeling rooted or settled, she travels the world visiting abandoned towns and structures as they are slowly reclaimed by nature.
Radtke tells her story in direct, unfussy language and compelling black and white drawings. In some pages, she conforms to the traditional three to nine frame comic format, and in others her drawings overlap the frame or incorporate collage or drawn-over photographic elements, giving the book a lot of life, and the reader plenty of incentive to keep turning the pages. Radtke’s story is poignant, her illustrations lovely. This book quickly hooked me and I read it in one sitting. I now consider it a favorite. This is a great entry point into the graphic book format, and I recommend it to new graphic book readers (and experienced graphic readers won’t want to miss it). Request a copy.
Rosie and Penn are parents of five boys in Madison, Wisconsin. From a young age it is clear that their youngest son, Claude, is different from the other boys. At three years old, he tells his parents he wants to be a girl when he grows up and wants to wear dresses and bows in his hair.
Acting in the best interests of their child, Rosie and Penn are supportive of Claude’s feelings. He begins to transform into a girl named Poppy. Conflicts and hostilities from their community cause them to move. When they relocate, they decide to keep Claude’s gender a secret, which eventually causes stress and grief to the entire family.
Although the story is about a transgender child, the bigger story is how parents will always move heaven and earth for their children. Being a parent, I could totally relate. Both my children have such different personalities, but I love them both so much equally in their uniqueness and struggles. That’s what being a parent is all about, navigating the unpredictable territory of raising children. It is a strong reminder that we should judge less and embrace the differences in people. A powerful read, especially in this time period. Request a copy.