From Publishers Weekly
These beautifully rendered watercolor and pencil collages capture confessional moments from bat mitzvah to the author taking her boyfriend home to West Palm Beach, Fla., to visit her mother. While treading in the autobiographical path of many cartoonists before her, Davis's sweet and well-observed sketch-diary entries and more structured pieces for such magazines as the Tablet deal with growing up as a Jewish woman. Some time is given to fashion and dating, but the focus is mostly on the daily humor of surviving a boring day job and squabbling family. What sets Davis apart, as least as she portrays herself, is her general sanity and good humor. The problems are more Family Circus than Fun Home: a sisterly blowup comes down to the disposition of a doughnut, and a relationship problem involves several half-eaten packages of cheese. An early strip deals with a trip to a fat farm, but even that ends with remarkably little self-loathing. What this collection does show is Davis's evolution from sometimes awkward swirls of penciled diary pages to constantly inventive and very accomplished painted art. It's hard not to find something to identify with or smile at in these pages. (Oct.) (c)
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Womanhood is about femininity, but it’s just as much about maturity and marking cultural passages with formal and informal rituals. By collecting years of earlier story arcs and sketch pages in this volume, Davis offers readers access to all the ways in which she has addressed the goal of making herself a woman and being seen as a woman. The lushness and diversity of page types—many full-color, talkative snippets that extend across dozens of panels; some black-and-white single-panel cartoons; and others employing the busy but expressive nonlinear relational perspective Lynda Barry has honed—echo the varied story elements, which include Davis’ Bat Mitzvah, changes in girlhood friendships, dealing with parental pressure (and lack of thereof), dating, moving, and changing careers. While the volume can be read front to back as a memoir, each piece stands independently and as such may be attractive to different audiences. Good browsing for Davis’ cultural peers, their younger sisters, and their parents as well as any readers interested in the complexity of contemporary womanhood. --Francisca Goldsmith