In Case You Missed It – Dancing at the Pity Party by Tyler Feder



Dancing at the Pity Party by Tyler Feder is a difficult graphic novel to read. Not because the text is hard to decipher or because the art is bad. Rather, Dancing at the Pity Party is hard because of its very heavy subject matter, which I will warn you abouy now: This graphic novel deaths heavily with the death of the author’s mother from cancer. If this is a sensitive topic for you, you are welcome to skip this review. However, as someone who has lost a parent to cancer, I really appreciated what this graphic novel had to offer.

TRIGGER WARNINGS: Death of a parent, cancer

Dancing at the Pity Party is a graphic novel that follows the author, Tyler, and her mother, Rhonda, as Rhonda gets diagnosed with cancer. The first half of the book is about Tyler’s experiences with her mother, how creative she was, how funny, how kind. Feder does a wonderful job at painting her mother as a whole person instead of just a “mom with cancer.” Her mom felt like a real person who lived an excellent life and I really appreciated it.  Tyler also has a lot of siblings that make it into the graphic novel–and they’re all distinct and fun to read about. Despite

Dancing at the Pity Party

the novel’s very heavy subject matter, it’s a wonderfully funny and poignant story about love and grief and what it means to face life as a young person who’s lost a parent.

The narrative here is very good. Feder manages to be both hilarious and tender at the same time. She doesn’t sugarcoat the reality of her feelings. Grief is complex and hard to get through. No one experiences it the same and Feder drives this home with creative panels and artistry that o

nly the graphic novel medium can provide. As I’ve mentioned many times before, the narrative here isn’t what you might expect. It’s a story about Tyler’s mom’s death, but it’s also a story about Tyler graduating high school and going to college. It’s a great graphic novel for older teens to read if they’re going through similar experiences with a parent.

One other aspect I’d like to point out is that Tyler Feder and her family are Jewish. Her Jewishness permeates these pages in a loving, tender way. I loved reading about how death is seen in Jewish culture, and how death is managed. It’s a very beautiful and insightful piece of the graphic novel and I really enjoyed it. The casual art style is accessible to newer comics readers as well.

You’ll be able to check out Dancing at the Pity Party: A Dead Mom Graphic Memoir at the Oreana Library soon!

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