Author: Jenny Jaeckel
Publisher: Raincloud Press
Date of publication: October 2016
Spot 12 delivers the gritty details of a new mother and her newborn daughter, Asa, during a five-month stay in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in this visually gripping graphic memoir by Jenny Jaeckel. A routine prenatal exam reveals a dangerous problem, and Jaeckel and her husband find themselves thrust into a world of close calls, sleepless nights, and psychological crises. Surrounded by disagreements and family tensions, death, and questions of faith, Jaeckel struggles to maintain a positive frame of mind.
Against the antiseptic, mechanical reality of the NICU, the dedicated doctors and nurses are drawn as sympathetic and wry animal characters. Doctor Eyes and Nurse Gentlehands are two of the caring individuals who do all they can to save Baby Asa. At times Jaeckel and her husband battle feelings of helplessness and despair, but their determination, hope, insight, bravery, and connection ultimately helps keep their little girl alive.
Spot 12 is an account of the author's experience with the five months she spent with her daughter in the NICU. The book is unique as it is presented in a graphic novel-like format with the text and drawings created by the author. I haven't myself had any experience with my own child in the NICU, but I have had friends and family members who have spent time there with their newborns. Everyone's experience is different, but I can guess that some of the fears and feelings that all parents have while their child is in the NICU are the same.
For the most part, I liked the format The story flowed very quickly and the author was able to get the emotion and fear that she felt across to the reader very well. I think that it would be a good account for other parents going through the same thing to read. Maybe it would help them to know they aren't alone in their feelings. I liked how she gave the nurses, doctors and techs names that matched their personality and job. It made me feel more connected to them. I did feel like some of the cartoons didn't fit what was going on in the panel, but those were very few and far between. There is an epilogue in the end that catches you up on Asa's progress into 2015. I do recommend giving this one a try. I think a lot of people would benefit from reading it.
“A memorable and beautifully executed memoir of a newborn’s difficult first months.” —Kirkus Reviews
“It’s a sad, lovely, tragic story. It reminds us how close we are to tragedy at any moment in our lives…” —Tom Hart, author of Rosalie Lightning
“Spot 12, the novel, a unique combination of text and remarkable drawings, was able to completely hold my interest. The topic of parenting a critically ill newborn in the NICU is not a new one…But Spot 12 was matchless in its comic book format associating pictures with feelings….It is very impressive.” —Anita Catlin, for Advances in Neonatal Care
About Jenny Jaeckel
Jenny Jaeckel holds a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington and a Master of Arts in Hispanic Literatures from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. She is a certified interpreter and translator (Spanish) and teaches illustration. She lives in Victoria, Vancouver Island in British Columbia with her husband and daughter.
Jaeckel is the author and illustrator of three graphic memoirs: Spot 12: Five Months in the Neonatal ICU, which won a 2008 Xeric Grant (printed in Canada, to be released in the US in 2016 in both English and Spanish), Siberiak: My Cold War Adventure on the River Ob (published in 2014), and Odd Pieces: Memoir of a Childhood (to be published in 2017). For the Love of Meat: Nine Illustrated Stories is her first collected fiction (2016).
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