PTSD Review: Mr. Rogers with Guns & Pink Hair

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PTSD by Guilllame Singelin

Synopsis:

After returning home from an unpopular war, Jun becomes an outsider in an indifferent world. Alone, desperate, and suffering from wounds both mental and physical, she seeks relief in the illicit drugs she manages to purchase or steal. Jun’s tough exterior served her well in combat, but she’ll need to nurture her vulnerability and humanity to survive at home. With the support of her fellow vets, the kindness of a stranger who refuses to turn away, and the companionship of a dog named Red, Jun learns to navigate the psychological trauma that she experienced in the war. Singelin’s PTSD is an adult fiction graphic novel that grapples with the reality of being a war veteran about a traumatized war vet who must fend for herself against all odds.

Thanks to NetGalley and First Second Booksfor providing a copy of PTSD for review.

My background in neuroscience drew me to  PTSD. I expected something insightful and well-intentioned and I feel that I got that! This book is moving, and provides some practical steps toward healing from any difficult event. No matter what a reader is going through, I think this story could help them feel seen.

The story follows Jun, an ex-sniper from a fictional war. She lives in a fictional country that blends together some cultural elements from southeast asia and Laos. I think it’s important to go into this book with that knowledge in mind. The author is never trying to compare Jun’s struggle to any real life veteran’s hardship. I loved that Singelin included companion animals in the story. That addition really made Jun come alive for me as a character.

It may have been due to the format I was reading (digital), but the art was a bit choppy for me.  Some panels felt overcrowded, or unclear, though that did mesh well with the storytelling. So much of Jun’s world is overpopulated, and crammed full of things and people she doesn’t feel equipped to deal with. I would like to pick up a physical copy of the book to see how it compares.

Jun left the war, but the war never left her. PTSD tracks her journey post-war, and the myriad ways she tries to relate to the world after leaving the battlefield. It’s not a happy book, but that’s one of the many things about this work that calls to mind poignant pieces of animation like Grave of the Fireflies, or Princess Mononoke. All of these works have a fairly straightforward message but they explore it with great purpose. In PTSD the focus is on building a community of people who share the same struggle.

PTSD is on sale now!

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