Book Review: American Widow by Alissa Torres and Sungyoon Choi

Title: American Widow
Author: Alissa Torres and Sungyoon Choi
Genre: Graphic memoir
Publisher: Villard
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from the public library
First line: The world trade center was just hit by a plane!

American Widow is a graphic memoir telling of Ms. Torres’s experience after losing her husband in the World Trade Towers on 9/11. He started working for Cantor Fitzgerald on September 10th. On September 11th, he died.

Ms. Torres’s story is heartbreaking, extremely well-told, and important for people to know. She speaks of the struggle to get financial help after 9/11, in spite of the fact that millions of dollars of charity were flooding into organizations like the Red Cross. She tells about the pain she felt when people started turning against some of the 9/11 widows in the press, vilifying them and accusing them of trying to profit from their husbands’ deaths. Most of all, she tells about her grief and the enormous effort it took for her to continue on with her life.

Sungyoon Choi’s art fits this story perfectly. It is simple and moves the story along. Some of the panels of Ms. Torres sitting alone or lying alone in bed are particularly poignant.

In my opinion, there is one weakness in this book. Ms. Torres speaks of being angry with her husband the day before 9/11, and still angry when she saw him off to work on the morning of the devastation. I never understood what she was angry about. I’m not sure if the weakness lies in the art or in the words, but I am still a little confused on that point. Still, that’s a minor quibble with what is otherwise a brilliant book.

This is a re-post of a review I wrote a couple of years ago.

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10 Responses to Book Review: American Widow by Alissa Torres and Sungyoon Choi

  1. Sandy
    Twitter: youvegottaread
    says:

    Graphic novels are my crack these days…I can’t get enough of them. They are quick reads, but are visually and intellectually stimulating. I’m off to see if my library carries this one.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Sandy – I’m so glad you’ve become such a fan of graphic novels! They were a genre I wasn’t too sure of before I tried it, either, but there are so many good ones that I can’t get enough!

  2. Stephanie says:

    This sounds incredibly sad. I am definitely interested in reading it and also kind of curious to see how such a devestating topic is portrayed in a graphic novel.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Stephanie – I’ve read several graphic novels that deal with hard topics, and the genre really does handle the subject matter well: Maus, Persepolis, and Blankets come to mind.

  3. Ash says:

    This looks great and I’m surprised I’ve never heard of it before. I’ll definitely check this out as I love graphic memoirs.

  4. Vasilly
    Twitter: Vasilly
    says:

    I’ve seen this graphic novel before, checked it out from the library but have never read it! I really must do it. Thanks for sharing this book with us.

  5. Kathleen says:

    I am always amazed at how graphic novels can convey these sorts of stories and end up touching me even more than a regular book would. It is such a powerful medium. I can’t imagine starting work on 9/10 and then 9/11. What a horrible stroke of bad luck.