I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I picked up this graphic novel at the comic book store. It came in a huge box. It had 14 different pieces to it. They ranged from small books to newspapers to pamphlets. They all told stories of occupants of a Chicago building. There was no beginning or end. You could read each of the pieces in whatever order to learn a bit more about the occupants’ lives.
I really enjoyed this reading style. Not having a definite beginning reminded me of when you meet someone. You meet so many people at one point in their life, and over time, you learn bits of their history and are with them as they go into the future. Most of the stories revolved around a thirtysomething woman who lived in the building when she was single and later was conflicted about moving to the suburbs after getting married and having a daughter. I began with the stories of her time in the suburbs with hints of what her life had been like before. I finished by reading about her time before her marriage and it really came full circle. I never felt lost when I was reading. I was just given hints of her life at one point in time and learned more as I picked up a different part of the story.
There were other stories involving an unhappy couple, an elderly lady and even a bee. None of these stories were particularly happy. There were bits of happiness, but a lot of regret and sadness. I didn’t find it depressing to read though. I really wanted to keep reading about each person’s self doubts and feelings of hopelessness that kept entering into their minds. Once again, I didn’t find it challenging to read, even with the somber tones. I really connected with the characters and wanted to go back and reread different parts as soon as I was finished.
The only flaw I found with it was the parts with the bee. I am guessing it was there as some sort of comic relief with all the other storylines, but it was still a sad story, and was pretty disconnected with the other stories. There was some connection but it could have easily been left out. I think the time spent on the bee could have been spent developing the storylines of the couple and elderly lady. I wanted more on them that I didn’t get.