In Passing for Human, Finck is on a quest for self-understanding and self-acceptance, and along the way she seeks to answer some eternal questions: What makes us whole? What parts of ourselves do we hide or ignore or chase away—because they’re embarrassing, or inconvenient, or just plain weird—and at what cost?
She’s great at watching people and has a knack for seizing on the slippery moment just before the mood turns from strange and funny to sad ... The fantastical elements of A Bintel Brief are constrained by the structure of the letters, but in her new graphic memoir, Passing for Human, Finck goes for broke. Shadows come to life, fear and writer’s block manifest as mean rodents that repeatedly force her to rip her work up and start over ... Imaginary friends are hard to pull off, imaginary boyfriends even more so, but Passing for Human has a light touch. Finck’s illustrations are spare, jumpy, and often very funny, and the magical realism never feels forced.
You know when you have a book report due but you’re not sure you completely understood the nuances of the book ... That’s exactly what happened to me with Liana Finck’s graphic memoir Passing for Human. Except that the self-doubt ended up being an entirely fitting emotion for confronting this book ... I read it again ... It is drawn in a straightforward pen-and-ink style but each simple drawing captures such raw emotion. It’s wonderfully intimate, like reading someone’s diary ... It’s all so poignantly relatable that it makes me a little achy.
...[a] tender, complicated narrative ... If reading it makes you think long and hard about neurological difference and the isolation it may involve, it also reminds you that we all feel weird at times – as if we are, as she puts it, only passing for human ... This book comes with a lot of whimsy: shadows that walk and talk; a god that is a queen on a cloud ... Her biblical-mythological interludes don’t always work. Somehow, though, this doesn’t matter – and not only because it’s impossible not to admire both her ambition and the beautiful economy of her line drawings ... There is a resonant truth at the heart of this book, and it soars above everything else.