Julio’s Day, by Gilbert Hernandez (2013)

Genre: Graphic Novel
Interest Level: Adult
Julio's DayRemember The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared? Reimagine it in graphic novel form, and you have Julio’s Day. The book opens in 1900 on the day Julio is born to American parents of Mexican descent, and ends 100 years later on his death. In between we watch Julio grow up and discover the people who make a difference in his life, both good and bad. We learn family secrets and suspect a few ourselves. Along the way, historical events of the 20th century are woven into the storyline. Many of these events touch Julio’s life barely at all, others are more impactful. The Depression required a few lines, and his images of the 60s were just plain fun. Hernandez’ illustrations are in stark black and white, allowing the reader to focus on the narrative and the emotions evoked, sometimes with just a few strokes and other times building over several panels. He uses a mix of close-ups and distant perspectives to tell Julio’s story. And something I’ve never seen before: an illustrated a character list at the start of the book showing various people at different ages – this is helpful as people can show up after a gap of many years. I flipped to it regularly to keep track of the many generations, from Julio’s mother to his sister’s great-grandson, whose ease with his sexuality provides a poignant contrast to expectations and mores of earlier times. A touching story that moves the reader to resolve to live one’s day fully.

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About Michelle Mallette
I'm just trying to keep track of the books I've read - what I liked and what isn't worth re-reading. My work as a librarian has included youth services so you'll find a wide range of interests from picture books and teen dystopia to adult sci-fi, road trip novels, and nonfiction. Comments and communication is always welcome.

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