Notes from a Sickbed
by Tessa Brunton
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Pub Date 01 Nov 2022 | Archive Date 30 Nov 2022
Lerner Publishing Group, Graphic Universe ™
A Note From the Publisher
Title also available as a library bound $29.32 (978-1-7284-1948-0).
"Painfully real." –starred, Kirkus Reviews
"Notes from a Sickbed is a sympathetic, inspiring graphic memoir account of grappling with an illness."—Foreword Reviews
"This book is a gorgeous and necessary addition to the canon of graphic medicine." —Nicole Georges, author-artist, Calling Dr. Laura: A Graphic Memoir
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 60 members
As a person who has suffered with chronic health issues my entire life, this graphic novel spoke to me on such an incredibly deep and personal level. From the very first pages I found myself laughing and crying in a way that only someone who has lived this life could understand.
Tessa Brunton depicts the life of the chronically ill in such a raw and honest way, while still maintaining the humor that is so vital for those who can relate. It is so very easy to give in to despair when you are chronically ill, especially if you suffer from an “invisible” illness. So for Brunton to be able to create this comic in a way that allows it to be honest and witty at the same time, is very impressive.
Notes from a Sickbed is truly such an important piece of work, and I feel like it should be widely known within the community. I also found this to be a wonderful tool in which to show my husband the aspects of these illnesses that are so hard to explain.
There can be such a deep and profound loneliness in being unable to live the life of an able-bodied person, and this book truly made me feel like so many of my experiences were more widely understood. For the first time in a long while, I truly felt less alone, and for that I greatly thank the author for this work.
Thank you so very much to Netgalley and Lerner Publishing Group for the opportunity to read a review this work.
A brilliant raw look at living with a chronic illness that absolutely everyone should read.
With imagination and humor, author and artist Tessa shares her experiences. A mixture of storytelling and notes unfold bits and pieces of her story, with an openness that carries impact. She delves into the emotions that accompany such a drastic change in health, and the steps she has taken in her quest not to lose her sense of self. Relatable and honest, expertly blending realism and the fantastical, Tessa Brunton is an author to keep an eye on.
Tessa Bruntom creates a visual story with depth and detail, bringing to mind the work of legend Howard Cruse. A graphic novel journey that is worth the visit.
Notes From A Sickbed, written and illustrated by Tessa Brunton, takes us deeply into her inner world since 2009 when a life-altering, overwhelming illness flattened her health and erected new and brittle limitations and boundaries – that of her body and sickbed. Through her richly creative cartoon vignettes, we experience her thoughts and daily mostly housebound life. Her marvelous cartoon panels reveal the need to "let it rip" what she’s feeling, including haunting the non-sick (splendid), navigating the medical resources (endless and useless loops), outfitting the room with coping whatnot to survive (including gadgets, kitty mugs, books - “Buck Up Or Else”, nostalgic memorabilia, and other dust collecting possessions). The reader is offered glimpses of artistic nuggets of wonder – torn off sticky tape strips with marching oddball creatures - sometimes chirping gems of delight like a Greek chorus; a calm cat napping; witty Neighbor News (a must read); and those floating haunters or examples of living in a snail’s shell. Time and again, she calculates possible exertions and negotiates with “post-exertional malaise” to squeeze out some normal life moments, mostly resulting in disheartening reaffirmation that “activity no matter how small causes symptoms.” At times cartoon panels painfully convey more than is stated - the sickbed and its resident frozen in place while the non-sick’s world marches on out the window. This is not an exploration of everything about the illness known as ME/CFS - also known as chronic fatigue syndrome, often misunderstood, ignored, cavalierly dismissed, devastating, disabling, and incurable. It is not meant to be. Nor is it a book of hopelessness.
Susan Sontag’s lines that “Illness is the night-side of life, a more onerous citizenship. Everyone who is born holds dual citizenship, in the kingdom of the well and in the kingdom of the sick.” What this memorable book effectively and bravely puts forth is how to find ways to live with this illness, how to dampen even slightly the symptoms, how to hold onto that passport to the kingdom of the well – even from a sickbed. How to thrive. Tessa Brunton’s mind is plum full of fascinating adventures through her artwork, and this is her passport to the other world.
This book has been starred in the book world. It deserves it. For those who don’t know or understand ME/CFS, it offers a view that may alter perceptions. For those who must live with this illness, it nails it and that is a godsend. The blend of the graphic format with the serious nature of this illness into a unique memoir succeeds at every level. It was difficult for me to review this book. I have held these dual passports for decades due to this same illness. Although I haven’t yet daydreamed about haunting the non-sick – there’s still time. This is a wondrous book. I’ve ordered it from my favorite indie bookstore so that I may put it by my bed and smile when I need to go a-haunting. I am also recommending it our public library. If they don’t order it, I will buy it and ask that it be added to the library’s collection.
This opinion is all my own. I am grateful to NetGalley, Graphic Universe, and especially Tessa Brunton for allowing me early access to read this exceptional book. To Tessa Brunton – I hope you will keep writing and drawing as you can, no deadlines and no commitments. Just hopes. I want to read every one of those “possibilities” at the end. To dwell in possibility. Thank you.
Here I am, in the middle of a big fibro flare, and I stumble across this! I haven't read any graphic books so I wasn't sure if it would be my thing but I knew this was a great place to start because I can relate. I'm always looking for new things to get into since I am also stuck with myself for entertainment.
This was really interesting and imaginative and it was kind of relaxing to me since I already didn't feel good so it was meaningful content. My heart goes out to the author who has it even harder. I was interested in the journey and where their mind wandered to.
It's funny and random and I have to say that we are all grateful for the pets by our side through this! I was reminded of that. Thank you to NetGalley, the author, and the publisher for the chance to review.
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