Make Me a Woman

Vanes­sa Davis
  • Review
By – September 1, 2011
If you are excit­ed at the thought of peek­ing into a stranger’s pri­vate diary, then Vanes­sa Davis’ col­lec­tion of comics and draw­ings from 2004 – 2010 will be right up your alley. In a humor­ous and unflinch­ing style, Davis regales read­ers with sto­ries of grow­ing up Jew­ish in south Flori­da. She is fear­less in describ­ing typ­i­cal teenage rites of pas­sage, such as prepar­ing for her own bat mitz­vah and the unex­pect­ed joys of fat camp.” Using bright water­col­ors, Davis illus­trates sto­ries about col­lege, dat­ing, sex, com­ing to terms with her Jew­ish iden­ti­ty as an adult, and life as an artist in New York City and Cal­i­for­nia. Inter­spersed with these vignettes are short pen­cil-sketched diary entries, which sat­is­fy a voyeuris­tic crav­ing as they intro­duce friends, sto­ry­lines, ideas, and mem­o­ries. Davis’ artis­tic style and self-dep­re­cat­ing­ly hon­est voice is rem­i­nis­cent of Lyn­da Barry’s auto­bi­o­graph­i­cal works. But her stand-out pieces on spend­ing Mother’s Day with her moth­er and sis­ter in Flori­da, cel­e­brat­ing the High Holy Days, and cri­tiquing R. Crumb’s take on Gen­e­sis are heart­warm­ing­ly charm­ing, fun­ny, and in a class by them­selves. Warn­ing: this book does con­tain nudity.
Wendy Was­man is the librar­i­an & archivist at the Cleve­land Muse­um of Nat­ur­al His­to­ry in Cleve­land, Ohio.

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