Almost American Girl and its exploration of Depression
Many children and teenagers experience life altering experiences, one of the most common ones being moving. These experiences can induce various troubling thoughts in that child’s mind. In Robin Ha’s graphic memoir Almost American Girl, she portrays those feelings and thoughts vividly through descriptive and artistic drawings. In this graphic memoir, the most thought-provoking section of the book, for me, is when she explores her struggles with depression.
In chapter two of the memoir, Ha shows how the move from Korea to Alabama affected her mental health. There are multiple drawings that show her suffering from depression after having to leave her home, friends, and the only place she knew of behind (44). She shows herself not leaving bed and sleeping the days away as well as with not communicating with her family. The way Ha depicts these depressive emotions throughout the first half of the book is one of the main reasons I recommend this book. While many books explore mental illnesses like depression, the use of pictures displaying those thoughts helps the reader connect to her story more and gain a visual aid of what it really was like. Those drawings, coupled with dialogue of her thoughts, accurately portray what it is like to have depression. Many illustrations in this section of the memoir are drawn with dark, gloomy colors. These gloomy colors are commonly associated with depression or depressive feelings, furthering the idea that Ha was suffering from depression.
I also had to experience a troubling move as a child. I was only eleven years old, and my family and I moved from Georgia to Massachusetts. While other family issues were also going on during that time, having to leave my friends and childhood home behind caused depressive thoughts to arise in my brain just like Ha. I had not previously read, seen, or heard of a book that portrayed those emotions and thoughts as accurately as Ha did. The way that Ha depicts these intense emotions is why readers should pick up this book. Not only could many connect with the feelings she went through, but the memoir will also open others’ eyes to how mental illness manifests itself in people’s minds. While this memoir does not explore all the aspects of depression it is a good first step into exploring depression, which is why I would recommend this book.