Review: “Imagine Wanting Only This” by Kristen Radtke

Imagine Wanting Only ThisImagine Wanting Only This by Kristen Radtke
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I received this graphic memoir as a gift, read it in one sitting, and came away unsatisfied. The author, a young woman, tells of her search for permanence, but no matter where she goes, she can’t find it. Still, she asks vital questions along the way, and she probes the depth of her sorrow over the loss of her beloved uncle and the losses that other people have suffered. She visits a variety of ruins, learns of a possible distant relative who survived the Peshtigo Fire, and considers the costs to people when their livelihoods end.
During her trips, she assembles a wide range of fascinating facts and observations. The art and questions are haunting and seem to lead to some sort of journey’s end. A number of passages could stand strong as excerpts. Although she is empty, she takes a lot of ideas and items (including some that she shouldn’t) with the intent of doing something with them.
And she never does. The story ends with a series of questions, such as: “Who knows what will be significant when we have all moved on to whatever is waiting or not waiting?” She has no answer. Despite all the amazing things she’s seen and learned, she has assembled nothing from her experiences and has not changed and grown. She was callow and glum when she started, and she stays that way.

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