Daily Graphic Novel Recommendation 21

A Silent Voice

by Yoshitoki Oima
Genre notes: school, disability, bullying, romance
7 vols
ISBN: 163236056X (Amazon)

SPOILERS FOR THE INTRODUCTION OF A SILENT VOICE (though i don't think it should matter, really):
A Silent Voice begins with the story of two kids in elementary school—Shoya the reckless, popular kid and Nishimiya the new girl, who is deaf and communicates through writing in a notebook (since nobody knows sign language). Nishimiya’s inability to hear and the problems that crop up as a result are too strange for Shoya and so, leading by example, he creates an environment in which Nishimiya is bullied daily and with extreme prejudice. She is scorned, mocked, and has her hearing aids repeatedly torn from her ears and destroyed. When it eventually becomes too much, the girl’s mother complains and all blame is pushed onto Shoya’s shoulders. From that point forward, he is systematically bullied by his former friends in a manner far more vicious than that with which he instigated against Nishimiya. His resentment against her swells, and he gets into a fistfight with the girl, prompting her mother to remove her from the school. Six years pass and Shoya endures trouble all through elementary school and junior high. Through hindsight and reflection, he finds himself reevaluating those early days, and now as a highschooler, Shoya seeks to have one final, repentant conversation with Nishimiya before removing himself from the world.

And the story moves on from there.

A Silent Voice is concerned with the transition from sociopathy (non-clinical) to empathy. Just as I had to evolve from my early-twenties experience of passive aggression, so does Shoya seek to learn how to melt from his seclusion and inability to relate to others. While the details of his path are different from my own, it’s comforting to see the generalities are not unique to myself. I don’t usually look for representations of myself in the literature I take in, but for whatever reason I appreciate it in this case. Perhaps because I believe that Shoya’s story will end happily, it provokes hope for the conclusion to my own story.

Also, the film adaptation is amazing.

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