This is a humorous diary in comic book form about the frustrations of a college grad who ends up living at home while writing a book and waiting for the next job, or next step, or next living space. Although arranged as an interim stay, the residency stretches a tad longer than planned, therefore creating the need to make some adjustments and endure some oddball embarrassments and vexations.
Kate Williamson is one bright cookie who has been an artist for most of her life. She is as intellectually scrupulous as she is honest and humble, self-deprecating in a bitter-sweetly funny way, and a natural to produce this graphic novel about the journey of returning home. Just as Lauren Bacall was meant to be found by Hollywood, Kate Williamson was meant to combine her oriental artistic sensibilities in watercolor and cartooning, her pithy humor, mots justes, and frank brevity, to create this gem of a storybook.
Immediately, the cover art gives one a good feel for the yarn. Kate has drawn herself despondently prostrate on the very pink carpet of her very pink childhood bedroom. It’s not a fate she pictured as she matriculated to Harvard University. Her particular adventure is flavored by the character of her childhood hometown – a nice enough place for growing up, but not a happening locale for a single. She copes in her connections for social contact: reverting to playing with little kids in the neighborhood, hanging with much older generational friends (also revealing a truly nice mutual regard and enjoyment of her parents), and some of that boredom-numbing filling of time with videos. Many of us have been there, done that. However, not as many of us have been able to catalogue our own adventure as it unfolded and recognize our pathos as gentle, ephemeral comedy.
She gives hope to any of us who have faced a turn in the road, an unexpected intermission in the symphony of life, and the occasional accompanying feelings of isolation or defensiveness as we try to work past those speed bumps. Kate’s ability to examine herself and laugh, all the while retaining confidence that this is a temporary, yet necessary stage, is enviable and inspiring. She is a chrysalis who knows that butterfly-dom rests at the end of her road.
Watercolor illustrations, great in their own right, fill this book. Some of the best are seasonal nature scenes interspersed between the story pages, displaying the influence of Kate’s studies in Japanese art. The detail of woodgrains in hardwood, variably fading wallpaper patterns, autumn leaves and tender spring buds are sublimely captured.
I have high recommendations for At A Crossroads: Between a Rock and My Parents’ Place. Buy it as the perfect gift, but allow yourself enough time to read it first (and then maybe buy another copy for your permanent collection.)