GUEST WRITER LAURA NOBLE RECOMMENDS LIGHTER THAN MY SHADOW BY KATIE GREEN
Katie Green’s graphic novel, Lighter than My Shadow, is an emotional dive into the world of eating disorders, abuse, and recovery. Throughout Green’s book, readers can feel her guilt, shame, and awkwardness through her series of intimately drawn pictures showing how her body, mind, and spirit changed throughout her life and through her path to self-discovery. Green’s work is a documentary told through the art of illustration and we not only meet Katie herself, but her friends, family members, and abusers.
We also meet a few others along the way. While their names are not shared, they certainly show the importance of character-building and how to show an emotion, rather than describe it. Katie’s fears are symbolized through two means. First, we see a simple scribble – her emotions bottled up and created through a dark, menacing, and faceless creature that follows her throughout her life.
Secondly, we see a monster within Katie’s actual body – her eating disorder that has come alive within her.
So often as English teachers, we focus on the written word, but how often have you stepped back to take a look at the bigger picture? This is what Green’s work will force you to do – step back. Look at your own hurdles. See the bigger picture.
By reading Lighter than My Shadow, I have thought more about the difficult choices my students are faced with every day. We truly do not know the battle that is happening in anyone’s lives but our own. Green teaches us that compassion and empathy are truly the roots that maintain the strong foundation for not only our relationships with others, but our relationship with ourselves. I would recommend this graphic novel to both English and Personal Development teachers, as there can never be enough literature on the acceptance of one’s own body and the understanding of someone’s struggle.
Laura Noble is a high school English teacher at Leo Hayes High in Fredericton, New Brunswick. Laura is currently completing her Master’s in Education and is an avid reader of young adult fiction, true-crime, and feminist literature.