This is a well done book in a technical sense — the art is accomplished and clear, I like the use of a muted and restrained color palette, the story has a clear arc — but there’s something hollow about it that didn’t click for me. I think it might be because she had to leave chunks out due to the sensitivity of her parents’ government work, but I was left feeling unsatisfied in terms of my questions being answered. Passport is a graphic novel memoir that cover Gluck’s teenage years in an unnamed Central American country. She’s spent her childhood moving around from country to country due to her parents’ jobs with the US government (the CIA, which is left vague until near the end). I appreciated her insight into the impact being never fully settled can have on the children of career foreign service people, which isn’t a subject I’d thought a lot about. Most of the book is about her coming of age and struggle to see where she fits in — if she’s just going to move onto college in the US, why get attached? Where is home? She also struggles a lot with her parents, whose life of secrets means that they are distant and reserved figures.
The problem with the book itself having to keep her parents’ secrets, even though it’s about her own internal life, left me unfulfilled at the end. I also think that her own sense of being unsettled and continually starting over spilled into the emotional experience of the book, which I found to be kind of vague. In writing this review, I had to keep re-checking sections to see what had happened, so I didn’t really retain a strong memory of this book. I would say check this out from the library — it’s interesting but not a keeper for me.