We follow Goglu from a very young age up to her teen years in this often heartbreaking debut from Genevieve Castree, who writes and illustrates with soft, subtle restraint.
Goglu is just barely out of diapers when she begins to learn of her mother’s drinking…and how to handle it. She and her mother are living in Quebec with her mother’s boyfriend, while her father is thousands of miles away in British Columbia. There’s quite a bit of pain tucked away in Castree’s sparse panels, in which she beautifully captures the oddness and bewilderment of a childhood spent overcompensating for irresponsible adults.
Goglu is a daydreamer, and quite smart as well. She is tough and opionionated. Fascinatingly, she wonders about her own tendencies toward being drawn to sadness. It’s something she struggles with, and she reflects on it often. Is she susceptible to it, as the title suggests? Or is she strong enough to become her own person?
Susceptible is only 75 pages, but it’s one of those books that feels twice as long. The story is gripping and powerful, without dwelling in morbidity. Instead, it’s a rather impressive debut that offers hope amidst its hard-hitting narrative.