Rummanah Aasi
  Graphic novels usually get a bad reputation from the literary world. Some readers dismiss it as a book filled with "cartoons and superheroes". Some even go further and denounce the value of the form as being lesser than the novel. I would argue that graphic novels are actually harder to read than your regular book. A reader of graphic novels needs to not only read the written text, but also the illustrations, which is not so easy to do. The graphics are not simply 'there' just for the sake to make it look pretty, but they bring in another dimension of the character's personality along with symbolism, themes, and metaphors used throughout the graphic novel. A big misconception is that all graphic novels deal with superheroes or are fictitious. Though superheroes are a big cannon in the graphic novel industry, they are not everything. One example of a rich, multilayered, nonfiction graphic novel is Joe Kubert's Fax from Sarajevo.

Description: Fax from Sarajevo is based on the true story of survival of Kubert's Bosnian friend named Ervin Rustemagic. Ervin and his family are trapped in Sarajevo as the city underwent Serbian bombardment. He was only able to contact the outside world by fax. The graphic novel chronicles the hellish two years the family endured in Saravejo and how they escaped.  

Review: The Rustemagic's family story is told in twelve gritty chapters. The family does whatever it can to just survive the shellings, bombings, and shootings that constantly surround them. While their hope quickly diminishes, they reach out to their friends via Ervin's faxes. The faxes are both a distraction of their current situation as well as a life line in hopes of leaving Saravejo. This graphic novel opened up my eyes to the horrors of what happened in Saravejo, which I don't remembered being discussed much in the news until the war crime trials of some of the Serbian government.

    The novel mainly illustrated and is interspersed with real life faxes that Ervin sends to his friends. Some may feel that the story is told in a graphic format takes a way from the story and lessens its impact. I, however, feel that the graphic format is very suitable and it serves as a homage to the main character, who is a comic book writer himself. The illustrations of the humans made everything seem more real to me. If it was written in text, I don't think it would have impacted me so much. Perhaps I am desensitized by these horrors from the newspapers and other sources. As a reader, I can tell that the author's main strength's is his drawings than writing the text due to some of the awkward dialogue. 

    History tends to repeat itself and you'd think that we, as being humans, would learn from our mistakes and stop them from reoccuring again. I wonder how humans came up with the idea of genocide and ethnic cleansing and when will it cease to exisit. Maybe we're not really that smarter than animals?  

Rating: 4.5 stars

Curriculum Connection: Social Studies

Words of Caution: During this tumultuous and horrific time in Saravejo, lots of people were killed unnecessarily through bombs, shelling, and sniper shootings. People of all ages were under attack. In fact, 'bonuses' were given to snipers by killing children. Though the violence isn't as nearly graphic, it does prove a point and readers can infer or possibly imagine what really did happen. There is mild language and suggestions to rape. This graphic novel is suitable for mature high school students and adults.

If you like this book, try: Maus I and Maus II by Art Spiegelman
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