Guest Post by Kevin Brown
Transitions: A Mother’s Journey, Élodie Durand’s graphic nonfiction work, takes a nontraditional approach to narrative, visuals, and the idea of transitioning. First, this work isn’t a memoir, as Durand doesn’t tell her story; instead, she tells the story of Anne and Alex Marbot, fictional names for the mother and child whose lives she shares with the reader. Durand also moves back and forth in time, telling the Marbots’ story chronologically, at times, but then breaking up that story with inserts from Anne’s journal, which includes various inserts about gender identity.
Visually, the work moves between more realistic comic panels that tell most of the story and impressionistic sketches that reveal how characters (usually Anne) are feeling. The real difference, though, comes in the idea of transitioning. Rather than telling Alex’s story of their transition from female to male, this work focuses on Anne’s transition as she learns to accept her son for who he is.
Alex knows who he is throughout the work, as the reader only sees him after he comes to his mother to tell her of his decision. Anne, however, takes a couple of years to accept Alex, a journey that sees her move from questioning Alex’s decision in the fairly typical ways (believing they’re too young to make a decision or that their therapist put such an idea in their head) to becoming not just an accepting parent, but a staunch ally in the fight for trans rights and acceptance.
In this story, Anne is the one who must transition into becoming who she needs to be by the end of the work.
Transitions: A Mother’s Journey by Élodie Durand; translated by Evan McGorray. Top Shelf Productions, September 2023.
Reviewer bio: Kevin Brown has published three books of poetry: Liturgical Calendar: Poems (Wipf and Stock); A Lexicon of Lost Words (winner of the Violet Reed Haas Prize for Poetry, Snake Nation Press); and Exit Lines (Plain View Press). He also has a memoir, Another Way: Finding Faith, Then Finding It Again, and a book of scholarship, They Love to Tell the Stories: Five Contemporary Novelists Take on the Gospels. Twitter @kevinbrownwrite