Ducks by Kate Beaton

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5) – Worth It!

Graphic novels have come a long way in the last decade and Kate Beaton’s autobiographical “Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands” is a prime example of the depth and breadth this genre has to offer. Beaton’s writing and art provides a beautifully complex window into a few years of her life and growth that unveils a place and time in history that few can access. 

Beaton takes her readers into the Oil Sands of Alberta Canada right as the world of social media was emerging and we see her come of age in a microchosim that provided financial promise even as the social and economic underbellies of this system remained in shadow. Beaton allows the reader to follow along as she experienced an awakening in her early twenties that would both stabilize her financial future and deeply influence her life’s trajectory. 

The book as a whole is an excellent example of the power of the graphic genre. To literally see the places, landscapes, equipment and people that Beaton encoutered during these years allowed me access to a place and community in Canada with limited visibility. I enjoyed the simplistic vinettes of experience she explored and allowed to stand without transition. As the reader I experienced it as “moments of memory” instead of a retelling, which I personally enjoyed. 

Beaton also handled her experiences of sexual harrassment and violence with a sensitivity that doesn’t always translate in the graphic form. Other than survivors who might not be ready to engage this type of content, I can’t think of an audience this book wouldn’t benefit. Though a heaftier book, it reads quickly and remains accessible. I highly recommend “Ducks” to anyone interested in memoirs, Canada, the Oil Sands, or history. 

Happy Reading!

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