Publisher: First Second
Pub. Date: 2016
Genres: Memoir, Graphic Novel
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Lucy Knisley shares her experience as a bride in her graphic-novel memoir Something New: Tales from a Makeshift Bride. She shows how she fell in love with John, how her mother participated in wedding planning, and how difficult some her choices as a bride were. Mixed in the book are some facts about costs and traditions of weddings. Something New is an alright memoir, but the reader should not go into it with a critical mind toward weddings.
One afternoon a couple of months ago, I was browsing the graphic novel shelves at the library, and one of the librarians recommended that I read a Lucy Knisley book. There were three on the shelf, and I picked Something New because it sounded the most interesting. However, I went into this with the Kevin Doyle (from 27 Dresses) mindset, hoping for “an incisive look at how the wedding industry has transformed something that should be an important rite of passage into nothing more than a corporate revenue stream – in a fun, upbeat, you know, cheerful way.” This didn’t happen at all. It’s not the fault of any advertisement of the book that I thought this way, but I was hopeful with the information on the cover and some of the things Knisley complained about early on in the book. I’m disappointed on that front, but it’s my own fault. Unfortunately for the book, it affected my rating.
That being said, I did like the end of the book where we get a summary of what the couple learned about weddings. We get Lucy’s perspective and John’s (in the afterword), and this detail satisfies my craving for getting a different view on weddings than what Say Yes to the Dress or certain Hollywood movies would tell you. I also like that there is some reflection on their lives.
Since this book is more about the bride, we only see a lot of character development from her. Most of that happens in the chapters leading up to the proposal. All of the other characters are pretty static, but I liked where they came up in the story.
This graphic memoir sticks to a style that I’m getting used to in the genre where most of the panels are square and fit in a nice grid, though she does take liberty on some pages to make polygons of panels or leave them without a frame. She has two page spreads at the end of her chapters to reveal some facts about weddings, like weird traditions. Her color palette is soft, like what would be associated with weddings. Every artistic choice felt deliberate and sweet.
Lucy Knisley’s memoir about her wedding is sweet and a little funny, but it will not be enjoyed by anyone going into it looking for a critical lens on weddings. I think it’s best appreciated by those who like her other books or those who like wedding stories.