As someone who fairly enjoys indulging in comics in a variety of forms, I usually don’t take interest in more serious topics and relatively circle around fantasy and fiction. Yet, I decided to try and read something that usually wouldn’t catch my attention. The title itself drew out curiosity as I found, “Everything is Beautiful and I’m Not Afraid” to seem like a light and endearing read. It was indeed sweet and quite short, but despite its length, left me with bitter tears and warmth. It was an unexpected development as already from the summary, I had gathered that the story wouldn’t be particularly free of struggle, but I wasn’t expecting to resonate with the many that were mentioned throughout the story. It was a beautiful transformation from the girl that was filled with insecurities and the way she learned to rearrange them gradually. It was the relatable moments that caught my attention, and I found the way she had altered them to be so moving that I wasn’t able to prevent the tears that escaped. It felt like the words written on the pages were the ones that I had wanted to hear in the times I found myself in similar situations and thoughts. The graphic novel brushes on topics such as not being accepted by others due to sexuality, having to adapt to a new environment, being vulnerable in fears, judgment faced by others about what “mental struggle” looked like, and the struggle with body image. The ones listed are only a portion of what is mentioned throughout the story, but these appeared in the majority of the pages. Therefore, this makes a great read for readers who are experiencing similar struggles as the author.
Moreover, if you’re like me and are an avid reader of graphic novels with a familiarity with online platforms, you may have heard of Webtoon. Webtoon is a highly popular website where many authors and artists create work that is shared to others. One series Webtoon creators have produced with the efforts of another is “Drawing on Heritage”, which explores the lives of Asian Americans who felt out of place growing up or often missing elements of their culture. This series is a short read of 4 episodes and if you enjoyed it or have your interest piqued in the journey of Asian Americans, then “Everything is Beautiful and I’m Not Afraid” will be equally interesting. Both contain personal stories of Asian Americans incorporating their culture into their current lives and the struggles with feeling out of place. Such things as the difference in culture that each was familiar with that others weren’t. The artstyle can be described as simplistic in a way that is soothing, painted with pastel water like colors that holds a similarity to that of “The Little Prince”.
Not to mention, the positive message that is spread within the graphic novel brings about its contribution to the reader and the benefits of allotting time for this touching literary work. For instance, the graphic novel brings awareness to the effect that the ignorance of others on the topic of mental health afflicts the person who has become vulnerable enough to share their story. People often base their judgments on stereotypes and surface level information. They immediately criticize the person with statements such as “Really? You don’t look depressed though” or “What? You don’t look like you need it”. Although these may seem like harmless remarks said on a whim, they can bring feelings of discomfort and fear of judgment to the person sharing. This is just one example of how many issues are addressed in the story in the mind of the author. Hence, “Everything is Beautiful and I’m Not Afraid” is a touching and soothing read for those who are interested in stories addressing relatable insecurities, and the life of an Asian immigrant finding a place somewhere for herself.