From Publishers Weekly
Stricken with breast cancer at a disturbingly young age (43), Engelberg turned to cartooning to cope; the resulting work is both powerful and very funny. She starts at the very beginning, while awaiting her diagnosis. The story follows the cancer trail all the way through surgery, chemo, support groups, wigs, the distraction of cartooning, moving house while completely nauseated and the horror of a second diagnosis. In contrast to the heavy subject matter, Engelberg's artwork is naïve to the extreme, though it has some charm. The true strength of the book is its fusion of the deadly serious with the absurd, in the finest tradition of black humor. Engelberg's narrative is riveting. She traces the trajectory of both her diagnosis and her growing obsession with the crossword puzzle in the newspaper's TV guide—"must...avoid...inner...thought... processes," she announces. The reader discovers the author's difficulties in appreciating life's special moments, and witnesses the many compliments she receives on her post-chemo wig. We follow the way the medical profession communicates, the things people say when they don't know what to say and the utter incomprehensibility of not knowing if you're documenting your own slow death. It's extremely honest and extraordinarily powerful. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Engelberg was 43 and the mother of a 4-year-old when diagnosed with breast cancer. She underwent surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy in quick succession, and the cancer later metastasized to the brain. She lost her hair, experienced the seeming paradox of gaining weight on account of treatment, lost interest in sex, joined support groups in which she made new friends, and obsessed about what she might have done to bring on her illness or avoid it. She decided early on to make comics out of her travails, and if they are pretty rudimentary, they are very focused. Each one- to six-page helping of them centers tightly on a topic, incident, or such bits of fancy as an imaginary "Cancer Channel" and an infomercial for metastasis. Engelberg's daft sense of humor, never mean, gross, or flippant, serves readers, perhaps especially fellow cancer patients, as well as, maybe better than, it does her. Ray OlsonCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved