Billy, Me & You

REVIEWS FOR THIS BOOK

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NUMBER OF PAGES

207

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PUBLISHED BY

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED

October 2011

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“Child bereavement may not sound like material for a comic strip, but graphic books can explore human pain with honesty and wit. A moving and often unexpectedly funny memoir.” – The Independent

• British Medical Association Book Awards: 'Highly Commended' in the Popular Medicine category.

Nicola Streeten’s little boy, Billy, was two years old when he died following heart surgery for problems diagnosed only ten days earlier.

Thirteen years later, able finally to revisit a diary written at the time, Streeten begins translating her notes into a graphic novel. The result, a retrospective reflection from a ‘healed’ perspective and gut wrenchingly sad at moments, is an unforgettable portrayal of trauma and our reaction to it – and, especially, the humour or absurdity so often involved in our responses.

As Streeten's story unfolds and we follow her and her partner's heroic efforts to cope with well-meaning friends and day-to-day realities, we begin to understand what she means by her aim to create a ‘dead baby story that is funny’.

“The death of a child has to be the worst thing imaginable that could happen to parents. It's an extraordinary subject for a graphic memoir. Streeten kept a diary after the sudden death of her two-year-old son, Billy. She has used it as the basis for her debut graphic novel, so it provides insight into surviving what for most of us hardly even bears thinking about. It is a surprise then to find it provokes laughter as well as tears. The combination of journal format and naïve artwork somehow helps to make reading about grief and loss not only bearable but entertaining.” – Bryan and Mary Talbot’s Top 10 Graphic Memoirs,
The Guardian

Billy, Me & You comes in a plain yellow wraparound cover and, if you open it up, Nicola Streeten’s drawings are at first glance crude and unsophisticated (no borders etched out in Arabic script here). But once you start to read, you can see it’s not so much crude as raw, a red-eyed, fist-in-the-gut account of how Streeten and her partner (and their friends and family) dealt with – or didn’t – the death of their two-year-old son Billy after heart surgery. What’s most remarkable is that it will make you laugh. And then there are moments that will tear your heart open.” – Herald Scotland

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REVIEWS

Forbidden Planet

•Comics retailer

“This has a universal, empathetic appeal ... To say it’s moving really undervalues Billy, Me & You. It is, of course, how could it not be, given the subject matter. But it’s so much more than that. For a start it’s a page turner, a single sitting read, a truly satisfying journey undertaken with the author. The emotional intensity comes through her art, and its openess and roughness is endearing, welcoming, personal and real. This is a hugely personal memoir that serves so many purposes ... This is entertaining, original, thought provoking stuff.”

Page 45

•Comic and graphic novel shop

“The most profoundly moving graphic novel I personally have ever read bar none. [Nicola Streeten's] clarity in explaining the sequence of events and her initial emotional turmoil is just astonishing and so very touching...there is actually also a considerable amount of humour in this section of the work, as we are frequently treated to her thoughts in response to the comments of others, which range from the truly caring to the completely unhelpful, and indeed the occasionally utterly bizarre and inane. This is probably one of the very few works out there that not only has the power to heal, but also the power to inform people how best to practically help and support someone suffering such from overwhelming emotional trauma.”

The Guardian

•UK national newspaper

“A remarkable book ... it is searchingly honest, and desperately sad at times. At others, it is genuinely very funny. Quite a feat.”