PositiveThe AtlanticDear America serves as the most comprehensive follow-up to three works in particular: Vargas’s 2011 New York Times Magazine essay, \'My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant\'; his 2012 Time cover story, \'Not Legal Not Leaving\'; and his 2013 film, Documented. More notably, the book is Vargas’s first long-form piece of writing that tries, through the use of vignettes, to distinguish his private self from his public persona ... The book seems to follow in the footsteps of Vargas’s literary idol James Baldwin ... The memoir form, however, allows for pockets of fresh details ... Vargas’s candid prose is inviting to readers who are new to his story, as well as to those who might be unfamiliar with the complexities of U.S. immigration policy ... Vargas’s attempt to answer all relevant questions...is where the book gets bogged down. The memoir, as it veers into reportage, loses Vargas in the multitudes. His justified exhaustion at having to continually explain his and others’ predicaments to people across the political spectrum is palpable ... Dear America is significant for its expression of individual difference within the overlapping experiences of undocumented people.
RaveThe AtlanticJérôme Ruillier’s latest graphic novel, The Strange, his first translated into English, opens cinematically with a masterfully compressed pre-title sequence. The story begins in medias res, with a bird’s-eye view of a townscape rendered in thick lines and set against a dense red background. When the nameless central character speaks, his language of unfamiliar symbols is translated for the reader. We had decided to leave, he says. After paying a local fixer a large sum to supply him with a fake passport and tourist visa, he rushes to board a plane to an unspecified country in search of \'a better life\' for him and his family. In this moment of airborne transition, what little we do know of him recedes, and we hit the book’s title card, which marks his new identity: This undocumented individual is a strange ... Ruillier’s strength as a storyteller lies in his layering of these multiple points of view, which he pairs with a stripped-down aesthetic. Drawn with a simple five-color palette...Ruillier’s style is impressionistic, and the artist seemingly never uses a sharpened point.