There may be a 30-year difference between artist Rachel Scheer and her mom, Karen Gwertzman, but these sweet and sometimes poignant stories lovingly illustrate the parallels in their youthful experiences spent growing up in the Bronx (Karen) and Arlington, Virginia (Rachel)
Alternating between the stories of her mom and herself, Scheer depicts the experiences of meeting their cousins, going to summer camp, and the ways their teenage selves spent their afterschool time. Scheer makes some clever decisions about what to show and what to tell, including small details about the Catskills resort her mom spends a day at, or the ramshackle treehouse she hoists her cat up to in a pillowcase.
Written from the perspective of years between the actual event and the telling of it, events that might have seemed thrilling at the time (e.g., a mom not paying for items in a department store) just become part of the larger story about the strangeness of trying to bond with distant family. This technique serves the stories well, leaving the reader to wonder about the bits that are, in Scheer’s words, “too complex to explain.”), but also not giving those same moments more time than they’re worth in the larger scope of a young woman’s life.
By Mom, By Me is a charming depiction of memorable moments in the lives of two young women negotiating their worlds. There are no big traumas or challenges in these tales, but for anybody interested in the small details that make a life, this is a comic you’ll want for your collection. (Joanne Huffa)