09 Dec / A Pros and Cons List for Strong Feelings by Will Betke-Brunswick [in Booklist]
Will Betke-Brunswick alchemizes their beloved mother’s death into an affecting tribute to emotional resilience and everlasting love. For reasons not quite clear, Betke-Brunswick transforms their immediate quartet (two parents, two kids) into an adorable waddle of penguins, with extended family, friends, and acquaintances presented as other avian broods.
As a college sophomore expecting their parents to arrive for a visit, Betke-Brunswick instead learns their mother is seriously ill and quickly flies home. She will, in fact, have just 10 months left to live. As they track their mother’s inevitable decline, they also memorialize the joy and humor, interspersed with flashbacks from the quotidian (their mother’s deft slicing of bagels; eschewing the radio for books on tape) to the heartfelt (playing their song; sharing unique nicknames) to the utterly life-changing (coming-of-age as genderqueer).
Despite the spare page count, Betke-Brunswick’s memoir composed of resonating line-drawn panels in blue, white, and orange proves dense with plenty more pros than cons for eternally binding, never forgetting strong feelings.
Readers: Young Adult, Adult