Spring Rain: A Graphic Memoir of Love, Madness, and Revolutions by Andy Warner is an evocative story about one man’s experience battling mental illness and uncertainty whilst living in the middle of the 2005 Cedar Revolution in Beirut, Lebanon. Pulling from both personal memory and historic fact, Warner pieces together the everyday and the revolutionary in a thorough and thought-provoking memoir.
Andy Warner traveled to Beirut to study literature in 2005. He broke up with his girlfriend and was completely miserable, despite living in a city that has rebuilt itself after years of upset and war and is a glowing source of potential in the Middle East. He befriended a small group of mainly LGBTQ+ expats and students who showed him around the city and took him to all the trendy spots. They were having a great time smoking, drinking, and imbibing in a variety of illicit substances, but slowly shards of unrest and unhappiness in the city began to break. Meanwhile, Andy himself is going through the beginnings of a mental breakdown. Protests continue, the city divides, and Andy spirals deeper and deeper into his own mind.
Warner’s storytelling is powerful. He brings to light the physicality of mental illness by including his own experiences and feelings. He describes his breakdown as it felt to him and how his body and mind reacted to it. His ability to illustrate thoughts and feelings that are already abstract is excellent. The illustrations are clear and concise with just enough reality imbued within to remind the reader that these are real events with real historical figures. The use of illustrated maps is also helpful during the explanation of the Syrian Civil War and the events that happened prior to Andy’s arrival in the city. Overall, Warner’s use of real-life experience in regards to his own experiences with the revolution and mental illness paired with his simple yet eye-catching illustrations makes this graphic novel particularly powerful.
Spring Rain: A Graphic Memoir of Love, Madness, and Revolutions is appropriate for readers 16+ due to explicit drug use and sexual situations. Those interested in the history of the Arab Spring in particular will find this an interesting and informative read as it describes events as they were to those on the ground and living in the city of Beirut. It is enjoyable to readers of Erin William’s Commute: An Illustrated Memoir of Female Shame and Riad Sattouf’s The Arab of the Future: A Graphic Memoir.
Spring Rain: A Graphic Memoir of Love, Madness, and Revolutions
By Andy Warner
St. Martin’s Press, 2020
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NFNT Age Recommendation: Older Teen (16-18), Adult (18+)
Character Traits: Gay, Bisexual, Queer