Special Exits: A Graphic Memoir by Joyce Farmer

Mar 4, 2011

Cartoonist Joyce Farmer has created a graphic masterpiece entitled Special Exits: A Graphic Memoir which chronicles the decline and death of her elderly parents. Living in southern Los Angeles, Lars and Rachel have enjoyed a long, happy life together but old age is starting to affect their ability to cope with everyday occurrences. Their daughter Laura (presumably Joyce) starts helping them with grocery shopping, cleaning, cooking, laundry, hygiene and doctor visits but as their health deteriorates, she finds it difficult to manage her own life plus care for them. Rachel eventually goes blind and becomes completely dependent on her husband Lars. And she starts showing signs of dementia with spurts of irrational rage. Laura places her in a nursing home where she receives indifferent care and dies two-and-a-half months later. Farmer's memoir is not all grimness and despair. While cleaning, she finds objects that spark family memories. It is clear that there is much love in this family. Farmer spent 13 years crafting her memoir. The impetus for the book was her stepmother's treatment at the nursing home. She hopes that her book will inspire people to think differently about older people and the aging process. Having parents in their nineties, this book touched me deeply.

Reviewed by Library Staff