Tuesday, 9 August 2016

New Book Review--Indeh by Ethan Hawk

by Ethan Hawke and Greg Ruth

That's the first word that came to mind when I closed the cover of this book.  In colloquial internet-speak, it hit me right in the feels.  Oof.

What makes that more meaningful to me is that it is a different format than I typically enjoy.  This powerful historical story is presented as a graphic novel.*

In general, I have a hard time with graphic novels.  Not that I dislike them because of the principle of passing a story through illustrations, there are many readers who were first introduced to the tricky concept of reading through graphic novels, historically referred to as "comic books". I am just a very linear reader that is wholly entrenched in the up-to-down, left-to-right rhythm of reading.  Sometimes the varying shape and sequence of the graphic frames confuses me.  And any switch in the timeline, like flashbacks, is hard for me to catch.

Considering all that, for this book to impact me the way it did, speaks volumes.

I already pity my son's New Mexico History teacher spring semester.  I'm going to make him take it in for her to see; I think this is a valuable asset in any history classroom.

This book addresses a huge part of our history, especially here in New Mexico and the southwest that is misunderstood and largely ignored.  But the story of the Apache Nation and the process of the progress of the "white eyes" across the continent is dramatic and affects many people.

The challenge of writing an excellent graphic novel, especially one that is not intended to entertain with a fictional story but one to underscore the impact of an historical turning point, is balancing the text (minimal) with the illustrations (maximized).  The story has to be carried along on the twin streams of both, running in conjunction and both supporting and compelling each, in turn.

This fantastic work of literature and art does just that. Ethan Hawke and Greg Ruth have worked in tandem to bring to life this snapshot of early American history.  I found the afterword emphasized the compelling nature of the text and commend Mr. Hawk for not leaving this when his first avenue of presentation was deemed nonviable.  This was well worth waiting for.

 *A nod to those who misunderstand the use of "graphic" in this sense. It is not used to refer to something explicit or unsavory.  It is instead using the term to describe something depicted through pictures or graphics (those of you who scoff at this, be warned there are more people out there who have this misunderstanding than you know, do not discount them).

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