Epeolatry Book Review: Us by Sara Soler
Our reviews may contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through the links in this article we may receive a small commission or referral fee. This happens without any additional cost to you.
By: Sara Soler (English translation by Silvia Perea Labayen, letters by Joamette Gil)
Genre: Graphic Memoir, Non-Fiction, LGBTQIA+
Publisher: Dark Horse Books
Release Date: 25th July, 2023
Synopsis: Us is Sara and Diana’s love story, as well as the story of Diana’s gender transition. Full of humor, heartache, and the everyday triumphs and struggles of identity, this graphic memoir speaks to changing conceptions of the world as well as the self, at the same time revealing that some things don’t really have to change.
Sara Soler’s generous graphic memoir starts at the very beginning, opening the doors to all readers with a welcoming “Once upon a time…” Her cartoon-like art style (particularly the use of Henohenomoheji) and the bubblegum innocence of the trans flag colour pallette perfectly suits the tone of this slice-of-life book. Her book pitches its educational element at entry level, for those beginning their journey in understanding and awareness of gender identity and LGBTQIA+ relationships. I would say it is accessible for readers of any years – although publisher Dark Horse places this at 16+, which may narrow its window slightly as it could seem condescending to an adult audience.
Us is a coming of age, coming out, coming together memoir. Candid and forgiving – of self and others – it authentically documents the author’s reactions and phases of understanding, while giving permission for questions and growth. Soler introduces us immediately to her little family unit: Sara, her partner Diana, and their cat Cimmi who makes occasional appearances. This all feels like you’re hanging out with friends in their lounge, having their experiences recounted to you on the sofa over a cup of tea. There is, however, a slight disconnect between this personal generosity and the abrupt switch to explanation mode. The explanations themselves are basic and obvious to those with lived experiences and those too loose to hold water (if you’re looking to hold a serious discussion that might expand someone’s perspective to be more inclusive).
This is perhaps indicative of the fact that, although the book is marketed as Dianna’s trans story (“The first thing you should know is that Diana is a trans woman.”), it’s written by Sara. Sara, while on her own journey of self-discovery, is cis-gender. There’s room to wonder why Diana’s identity is the main focus, when Sara’s queerness is just as valid, worthy of representation and ready to be explored during this period in their relationship. That said, the transphobia and misogyny faced by a couple (of this make-up) is unique and very real; no less worth telling. Throughout the comic strips, Soler continues to bring in Diana’s experience, both the meta snippets of them leaping into the adventure of storytelling, hand in hand, and the poignant depictions of dysphoria and anxiety. What’s clear from the pages is a genuine sense of love and sensitivity, making space for Diana to be vulnerable. Their intimate coming out story plays out with openness, neither person pretending to be a role model of self-certainty or allyship.
Translated into English for the first time by Silvia Perea Labayen, I would recommend this as a great entry point into reading about the LGBTQIA+ community experiences – particularly the intersections between bisexual and trans identities in relationships. Despite the large proportion of teaching segments, it is lighthearted, hopeful, and kind, providing one more helping of representation that the world really needs.
- About the Author
- Latest Posts