Walker's Bookshelf

Algeria is Beautiful Like America

A young French woman decides to travel alone to Algeria in search of her family roots and to visit the former home of her mother and grandmother. It is the beginning of an enlightening and disturbing exposure to reality.

Olivia had never really studied the Algerian fight for independence from France, so she began reading and talking to all of her relatives who had lived there. They were “black foot”, French colonists who settled in the mountainous Aures region and opposed independence and disliked Arabs intensely. They supported the O.A.S. (secret army organization) that used terrorism, murder, and any means necessary to stop the independence movement.

The FLN (National Liberation Front) was made up of Arab and North African nationalist groups whose resistance led to the Algerian War. While she didn’t know it at first, her somewhat gruff guide was a member of the FLN and was not pleased about taking her into still hostile territory. There is an odd turn of events at the end.

I found this book fascinating for the history, and for the reminder that the truth in political situations is often elusive because of bigotry, self-interest, economics, or power seeking. Like many non-fiction graphic novels, this was highly informative in a very engaging and easy to absorb format.

If you’re interested in Algeria is Beautiful Like America, you might like these graphic novels….

Maus by Art Spiegelman

Maus is a haunting tale within a tale. Vladek’s harrowing story of survival is woven into the author’s account of his tortured relationship with his aging father. Against the backdrop of guilt brought by survival, they stage a normal life of small arguments and unhappy visits. This astonishing retelling of our century’s grisliest news is a story of survival, not only of Vladek but of the children who survive even the survivors. Maus studies the bloody pawprints of history and tracks its meaning for all of us.

Threads: From the Refugee Crisis by Kate Evans

In the French port town of Calais, famous for its historic lace industry, a city within a city arose. This new town, known as the Jungle, was home to thousands of refugees, mainly from the Middle East and Africa, all hoping, somehow, to get to the UK. Into this squalid shantytown of shipping containers and tents, full of rats and trash and devoid of toilets and safety, the artist Kate Evans brought a sketchbook and an open mind.

Accompanying the story of Kate’s time spent among the refugees—the insights acquired and the lives recounted—is the harsh counterpoint of prejudice and scapegoating arising from the political right. Threads addresses one of the most pressing issues of modern times to make a compelling case, through intimate evidence, for the compassionate treatment of refugees and the free movement of peoples.

The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui

Exploring the anguish of immigration and the lasting effects that displacement has on a child and her family, Bui documents the story of her family’s daring escape after the fall of South Vietnam in the 1970s, and the difficulties they faced building new lives for themselves.

At the heart of Bui’s story is a universal struggle: While adjusting to life as a first-time mother, she ultimately discovers what it means to be a parent—the endless sacrifices, the unnoticed gestures, and the depths of unspoken love. Despite how impossible it seems to take on the simultaneous roles of both parent and child, Bui pushes through. With haunting, poetic writing and breathtaking art, she examines the strength of family, the importance of identity, and the meaning of home.

**Descriptions taken from publisher description**