Eisner, Will. To the Heart of the Storm. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2008.
Here I present another graphic memoir deservedly bound for the classroom shelf. The “grand old man of comics” and creator of such legendary comics as The Spirit and Sheena, Queen of the Jungle, Will Eisner, himself, turns to his own life to tell a story of coming of age in New York, an American Jewish boy, in the period sandwiched between the two World Wars. Against the backdrop of his father’s memories of Europe and his parents’ continued struggles for financial stability in America, Eisner dramatizes his own struggles to fit into a world often hostile to his Jewish identity.
From his denial of Jewish prejudice in America to his determination to escape a cultural stereotype by choosing to fight in World War II, Eisner’s story feels familiar and overlooked. This book comes highly recommended for its high quality narrative and illustrations, as well as the reminder it serves about America’s own history and legacy of continued discrimination during a time period when history books still too often overemphasize the country’s blameless and heroic character.
Great for considering alongside Wiesel’s Night or Spiegelman’s Maus, in a unit on social discrimination or World War II/The Holocaust. Even outside the context of a teaching unit, this history-filled memoir, served up by the legendary graphic novel pioneer, merits a place on every teacher’s shelf. Especially, one serious about multi-disciplinary and visual learning.