I just finished a graphic novel that I thought might interest Travel with Aging Parents readers: Displacement by Lucy Knisley. It’s a charming tale of our twentysomething writer and heroine who takes a cruise with her 90+ year old grandparents (after reading the novel, you’ll understand the use of “heroine” to describe Ms. Knisley).

I’ve not read many graphic novels (or at least not since I was a kid) and at first, it took a bit of adjusting to follow the conversation flow. Do I read left to right?

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Although many were clearly top to bottom:

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It certainly kept me on my toes and made for part of the fun of reading this book! Once things get going though, the mechanics of reading became secondary to the storyline as the challenges she faced were pretty daunting…

As I witness up close and personal my own mother’s aging process, I think the definition of displacement found at the beginning of the book is quite appropriate:

n. A measurement of a ship taken by the weight of water to a ship’s underwater volume. The weight of a mass of water pushed aside by the intrusion of a ship’s hull.

My mom’s memory is slowly being pushed aside by the intrusion of old age. (And it sucks might I add.) My heart melted every time Lucy’s 93-year old grandmother didn’t know who Lucy was or she forgot she was on a cruise ship.

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From the moment they get on the plane, Lucy is confronted with numerous challenges one can face when traveling with seniors: bad packing decisions (particularly when going through security), incontinence, problems walking short distances, standing for any length of time and disorientation (particularly with her grandmother who has dementia). Although Lucy went into the cruise without knowing (or perhaps understanding) her grandparents’ medical conditions (something I would highly recommend against), she made their well-being and enjoyment a priority which I highly lauded.

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Lucy illustrates her frustrations with her father.

I also liked how Lucy confronts her own frustrations with her father for not taking more responsibility for his ailing parents (and also for letting her go on her own when it’s clear one person taking care of two people is a bit much).

Although my description may sound morose, don’t be turned off – it’s actually laugh out loud funny in many parts, particularly when she illustrates the voice in her head.

(WARNING: FOUL LANGUAGE IN THE RIGHT HAND PANEL!)

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It’s seriously hilarious (AND SO TRUE ON SO MANY LEVELS!).

I think for me that was part of the pleasure of reading the book – the graphics cut the harsh edges as it was a drawing yet at the same time it made the situations more relatable because I was seeing it vs. merely reading it. Yes, I did feel momentary pangs of sorrow; however, they were equally interspersed with moments where it was worth the hassle. I thought Lucy summed up perfectly “it was not an easy week, but I’m glad I did it…glad I could spend some time with them.” I was very glad I had spent the week with them too!

After finishing a book, I typically send it on for other friends enjoy; however, I’ve decided to keep Displacement so I can open it up when I need a good laugh (“karma is a bitch”). I highly recommend picking up this book if you’re looking for a charming story that goes quick.

Please let me know your thoughts if you get a chance to read it yourself!