Tuesday, September 26, 2017

My Brother's Husband by Gengoroh Tagame

Yaichi is a single and hardworking father in Japan. He runs an apartment complex and is a loving and caring father to young Kana. Everything in his life is fine and predictable until a very large Canadian man appears at his door and introduces himself as his late twin brother's husband, Mike.

When Mike shows up unannounced Yaichi is taken aback and does not know how to react. Fortunately Kana immediately takes to Mike, a gaijin or foreigner, and breaks the tension of this awkward first meeting. Yaichi welcomes Mike to his home and invites him to stay with them. Mike is grateful for the chance to spend time with the extended family he's never met and his cheery demeanor is hard to resist. He has never been to Japan, and has only heard of stories of Ryoji's twin brother Yaichi.

Yaichi lost touch with his brother when Ryoji moved to Canada ten years ago. He has always been accepting of his brother's homosexuality, but Mike's arrival makes Yaichi reexamine his cultural prejudices and realize he was not as open with Ryoji as he should have been years ago. Grief is portrayed sensitively in this graphic novel. Tagame does a fine job blending the sweet and funny parts with the heavy emotions that accompany the grief of losing a loved one.

Amidst the sadness, there is sweet Kana who centers her family. Her unwavering approval of her new "Uncle Mike" helps disarm her unsure father. Her shameless questions about her Uncle Ryoji and his lifestyle capture the innocence of a young mind and their complete openness and understanding of diversity.

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My Brother's Husband is a cute slice-of-life story about a family coming together while grappling with their new relationships as well as struggling with their own grief. The graphic novel addresses the cultural differences between Japan and North America through the conversations between the characters as well as Yaichi's self-examination. The story is relatable and touching.

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