I first heard of Displacement (2015) by Lucy Knisley from another Cannonball review. Knisley is a twenty-something writer who volunteers to chaperone her aging grandparents when they unexpectedly sign up for a cruise. I’d never read a graphic novel [or travelogue] before, but this one called to me for a number of reasons. First, the review was very positive and persuasive. Second, I have never been on a cruise, and I’m pretty sure that’s been a good decision. Right now, most of my knowledge of cruises comes from David Foster Wallace’s A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again. However, cruises are often on the table when it comes time to planning vacations, and I always like to hear more about them. Finally, one of the themes in this book is Knisley facing and dealing with the decline of her beloved grandparents. I have recently found myself in a similar situation with my father, and it was cathartic and moving to learn how Knisley dealt with these challenges.
This was a good, fast read that I would definitely recommend. The art is well done, Knisley is very relatable, and the story is engaging. From discussing the stress of flying with her grandparents, to her frustrations with caring for them, to the despair she feels when she realizes she is losing them, this book feels very honest and real. The details are sometimes hilarious and sometimes sad, but they were always interesting.
Interspersed between descriptions of the trip are excerpts from her grandfather’s recollections of when he fought in WWII. These are very different but equally fascinating little snippets. They are not only absorbing first-hand accounts of a different era, but the dichotomy between the handsome young soldier and the incontinent, old man are striking. It serves to remind us just how much he’s experienced in his life, as well as how much he’s changed. It also reminds us that no matter how young and healthy we are now, we will find ourselves in need of help.
Near the end of the book, Knisley includes a real picture of her with her grandparents on the cruise ship. I had so wholeheartedly swallowed Knisley’s drawings, that I remember being startled by the photographic proof of the reality of this trip and these people. On the surface, this book is simple, fast, and easy to read. Even when I think back on it, I don’t have much to say because it’s pretty easy to sum up. Yet it has a knack for sticking with you emotionally. I’m glad I read it.
Find all of my reviews on my blog.