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Fine: A Comic About Gender

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As graphic artist Rhea Ewing neared college graduation in 2012, they became consumed by the question: What is gender? This obsession sparked a quest in which they eagerly approached both friends and strangers in their quiet Midwest town for interviews to turn into comics. A decade later, this project exploded into a sweeping portrait of the intricacies of gender expression As graphic artist Rhea Ewing neared college graduation in 2012, they became consumed by the question: What is gender? This obsession sparked a quest in which they eagerly approached both friends and strangers in their quiet Midwest town for interviews to turn into comics. A decade later, this project exploded into a sweeping portrait of the intricacies of gender expression with interviewees from all over the country. Questions such as “How do you Identify” produced fiercely honest stories of dealing with adolescence, taking hormones, changing pronouns—and how these experiences can differ, often drastically, depending on culture, race, and religion. Amidst beautifully rendered scenes emerges Ewing’s own story of growing up in rural Kentucky, grappling with their identity as a teenager, and ultimately finding themself through art—and by creating something this very fine. Tender and wise, inclusive and inviting, Fine is an indispensable account for anyone eager to define gender in their own terms.


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As graphic artist Rhea Ewing neared college graduation in 2012, they became consumed by the question: What is gender? This obsession sparked a quest in which they eagerly approached both friends and strangers in their quiet Midwest town for interviews to turn into comics. A decade later, this project exploded into a sweeping portrait of the intricacies of gender expression As graphic artist Rhea Ewing neared college graduation in 2012, they became consumed by the question: What is gender? This obsession sparked a quest in which they eagerly approached both friends and strangers in their quiet Midwest town for interviews to turn into comics. A decade later, this project exploded into a sweeping portrait of the intricacies of gender expression with interviewees from all over the country. Questions such as “How do you Identify” produced fiercely honest stories of dealing with adolescence, taking hormones, changing pronouns—and how these experiences can differ, often drastically, depending on culture, race, and religion. Amidst beautifully rendered scenes emerges Ewing’s own story of growing up in rural Kentucky, grappling with their identity as a teenager, and ultimately finding themself through art—and by creating something this very fine. Tender and wise, inclusive and inviting, Fine is an indispensable account for anyone eager to define gender in their own terms.

30 review for Fine: A Comic About Gender

  1. 5 out of 5

    s.penkevich

    ‘This book is dedicated to everyone who wonders if they are enough. You are enough.’ Towards the end of Rhea Ewing’s Fine: A Comic About Gender, there is a discussion on language as a tool for processing experience. The interviewee discusses how the LGBTQIA+ communities found that creating a language to describe their experiences and realities was necessary as a way to cope, process and understand themselves, and—using 1984 as an example of how ‘strategically removing language’ was a method toward ‘This book is dedicated to everyone who wonders if they are enough. You are enough.’ Towards the end of Rhea Ewing’s Fine: A Comic About Gender, there is a discussion on language as a tool for processing experience. The interviewee discusses how the LGBTQIA+ communities found that creating a language to describe their experiences and realities was necessary as a way to cope, process and understand themselves, and—using 1984 as an example of how ‘strategically removing language’ was a method towards control—how important it is to be able to share this language. I found this a powerful example of what happens without the language: This is central to why Fine is such an excellent book. The graphic novel is comprised of 56 interviews Rhea Ewing conducted with a wide variety of people asking them what does gender mean to them. The book reads like a graphic documentary, shuffling through the discussions in sections organized around topics such as gender roles, body feelings, relationships and communities, and into more difficult topics like healthcare, housing, bathroom policies and more. There are no definite answers here, but a beautifully catalog journey towards them that shows how observations and thoughts on gender and sexuality are often unique and varied. What an idea means to one person is not always the same to another, and this builds a great point about how there is no correct way of doing things, that there is no perfect way to present, and that you are valid. Ewing examines the language used to dig for answers, and, to return to the example of why having language is important, passes on a variety of perspectives to those who might find a similar experience to help understand their own. Ewing also acknowledges that the language is also shifting, which can be tricky to navigate. This sort of book is important, though at an alarmingly increasing rate books such as this are being challenged and occasionally banned in libraries across the US. In an unprecedented high for challenges, the American Library Association tracked 1597 titles targeted for bans during 729 challenges in 2021, and the ALA citing a specific focus of these bans being books on LGBTQIA+ issues or Black authors. It should also be noted that 82-97% of bans and challenges go unreported. Removing access to books like these may very well be ‘strategically removing language’, and, if we are being honest with ourselves, the rise in challenges is a wedge issue using the books as method to create an atmosphere hostile to people who identify with these books while attempting to undermine public faith in public institutions. Returning to the book, Ewing does well by threading their own personal journey along with the interviews and creates a portrait of how difficult and confusing a search for self-understanding can be. Ewing examines how often gatekeeping occurs even in groups that aim for inclusivity and how hostile online communities can be. ‘”Mistakes” came at a heavy cost,’ they observe, ‘harassment and death threats flew for any incorrect usage of a term or politically inconvenient identity markers,’ with them becoming frustrated and worried about how to proceed because ‘I didn’t want to hurt anyone.’ But they also take much space in the book to celebrate communities and the good they can build. ‘I feel so relieved I don’t have to do it alone’ they say, and a really powerful part of this book is the reminder that you are not alone if you are trying to understand yourself or these subjects. It is also a good reminder to be helpful when you can (and if it isn't at the expense of your mental health, use best judgment of course). This book also tackles many social issues that deal with safety and legislation. One in particular that I was glad to see covered well was the issue of housing. LGBT youth are 120% more likely to experience homelessness and 1 in 5 trans adults have been denied housing, and 1 in 10 evicted from housing due to gender identity with many shelters not accepting LGBT individuals and even more that do not accept trans folks (as well as the obvious issues of safety even if they do). There is an excellent interview with a manager of a trans housing program in Chicago that does well to explain the issue, though during a break in questioning, the person is denied a bathroom key at the cafe they are meeting at and decides to end the interview. This issue is important, and one that is a frequent topic while working in a library. I could go on but really the best thing to do if you are in any way interested is to just read this book. I also really enjoy that Ewing provides notes, further readings and a bibliography to help direct readers to more resources. While the art isn’t anything particularly noteworthy, it is well done and captures faces very effectively. Ewing’s book helps everyone to understand they are valid, and this would make an excellent addition to any library. There is a good effort towards diversity, and an inclusive range of body types, though it does feel more focused on cis individuals and trans issues are far less prominent in the book. I think the method of simply presenting the interviews and letting a wide range of people speak for themselves is very effective though and this is a lovingly made and lovely book. 4/5

  2. 4 out of 5

    RoshReviews

    No matter how many compelling adjectives I use in my review, they will fall short to explain what an illuminative experience reading this book has been!! From the days when there were (supposedly) only two main genders – male and female – to today when gender is known to be not a binary concept but a spectrum, human thinking and acceptance of gender variations has come a long way. Unfortunately, we have an even longer path to journey ahead. In an age where there are so many gender-related terms c No matter how many compelling adjectives I use in my review, they will fall short to explain what an illuminative experience reading this book has been!! From the days when there were (supposedly) only two main genders – male and female – to today when gender is known to be not a binary concept but a spectrum, human thinking and acceptance of gender variations has come a long way. Unfortunately, we have an even longer path to journey ahead. In an age where there are so many gender-related terms coming up regularly – genderqueer, nonbinary, genderfluid, androgyne, cisgender, agender,… it is so easy to feel lost and confused, trying to understand who is what, who prefers what, what is what! This book won’t provide you with a dictionary of definitions but it will certainly help you understand concepts you never looked at or attempted to understand before. Because of its inherent structure, it provides perspectives, not definite solutions or fixed answers. Using the information it provides, you will be at least a little better prepared to understand the nuances of gender in today’s world. Rhea Ewing is a visual artist based in California. After struggling with their own gender identity for a long time (right term for this: ‘Gender Dysphoria’, which I now know thanks to this book), they decided to take up a social study as their college project. The plan was to ask people their idea of what gender means to them. (Try asking this question to yourself: “what is gender?” It’s not as easy as it sounds.) As the interactions grew, their questions, and thus their project, went on increasing in complexity and span. Rhea ended up spending more than a decade on their project. This book is the end result of all those efforts. As they write in the introduction, “Take the book for what it is: my own attempt to understand and connect with other people. No more, no less.” The structure of the book can be primarily divided into three categories: a theme/topic introduced through Rhea’s memories or experiences, answers related to that theme/topic taken from Rhea’s interviews with people of various gender identities, and finally Rhea’s own musings on that theme/topic before moving on to the next topic. The themes are as varied as race, language, hormones, healthcare, bathrooms, feelings, and many more. The content is staggering to comprehend. This is not a book to be read in one go but to be pondered over slowly and discussed often. I would have appreciated a glossary of the various gender identities because not everything comes out clearly through the interviews. At the same time, I can understand the difficult of collating so much information into a sensible and coherent flow and why a glossary would have been difficult to include – the definitions are still evolving and as of now, are more fluid than fixed, just like the idea of ‘gender’ itself. I can't say if I'll remember everything I read in this book but I've definitely learnt a lot and have begun looking with a fresh perspective at many things I’ve always taken for granted. Though this was a graphic novel, I didn’t really focus much on the artistic style used. This is a book you ought to read for its content, not for its illustrations. But if you are interested in knowing, the sketches are primarily in earth tones – varied shades of blacks, whites and browns. The illustrations don’t jump out of the page, keeping your focus on the text, as should be the case. A much-needed novel for today’s world where gender definitions change faster than we can stay abreast of. Again, this book is not to understand what is encompassed by each gender identity but to realise that there are many gender identities out there and we need to start thinking beyond just masculine and feminine, and to be an ally to everyone in every way we can. A must-read for all, no matter what gender you identify as. The book will help you understand why the rainbow flag is in rainbow hues and not in a dichromatic tint. 5 wholesome stars. The book begins with this beautiful dedication, and I’d like to end my review with it: “ This book is dedicated to everyone who wonders if they are enough. You are enough. ” My thanks to W. W. Norton and Edelweiss+ for the DRC of “Fine: A Comic About Gender”. This review is voluntary and contains my honest opinion about the book. *********************** Join me on the Facebook group, Readers Forever! , for more reviews, book-related discussions and fun.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Carmen

    This is good, but isn't as good as Gender Queer. It's a distillation of a series of interviews (56) with people over a decade of time in which Ewing interviewed them about their feelings, thoughts and experiences with gender, sex, race, coming out, etc. etc. It's informative and smart. However, it's a smattering of wide-ranging thoughts and ideas. While it is interesting, it's not as cohesive or brain-opening as Gender Queer IMO. If you have a history with feminism, if you have been trained in fe This is good, but isn't as good as Gender Queer. It's a distillation of a series of interviews (56) with people over a decade of time in which Ewing interviewed them about their feelings, thoughts and experiences with gender, sex, race, coming out, etc. etc. It's informative and smart. However, it's a smattering of wide-ranging thoughts and ideas. While it is interesting, it's not as cohesive or brain-opening as Gender Queer IMO. If you have a history with feminism, if you have been trained in feminism (even as a cisgendered straight person), then most concepts in this book won't be too foreign to you. This book is good if you want a variety of anecdotes from a diverse population. Kind of like OUR BODIES, OUR SELVES but in graphic novel form and aimed at... or focusing on transgendered and nonbinary individuals. I would recommend it, but not to everyone. I was hoping for a bit more cohesion, but perhaps that isn't possible when presenting this kind of research. I was surprised most by the discussion of how LGBTQIA+ groups and organizations reject and eject other LGBTQIA+ individuals who are not 'the right kind of queer' or 'are presenting gender in the wrong way' and etc. This was pretty depressing. Being a LGBTQIA+ person who is rejected from a supposed safe haven must feel awful. I guess it never occurred to me that queer people who are in a alleged support group would reject other queer people. But it should have, humans are awful pretty much across the board. TL;DR A fun, informative read. Not exactly what I'd give people as a first foray into transgender issues, it's not a beginner kind of book IMO. Much of interest to feminists, psychologists and psychiatrists, to people who are LGBTQIA+. I love social studies. I enjoy greatly when people interview a wide group of people about a specific topic, so this is an appealing book to me. I like hearing different viewpoints.

  4. 5 out of 5

    M. Reads Often

    I’m agender. This book was perfect. I loved to see how various people view gender. It was great to see the spectrums and how gender is so unique to each person. It was beautiful to see this done as a comic and to also see the journey of the author. I think this is a must read for all humans, and I can’t wait to have a finished copy to enjoy.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Rod Brown

    I'll admit that I'm still playing catch-up when it comes to understanding the dynamic world of gender identity that exists outside my little heteronormative and cisgender shell, so I welcome the insights and experiences offered up by the author and the dozens of people they interviewed for this very personal look at issues faced by the LGBTQIA+ community. It took me longer to get through than the average graphic novel, but I always found myself reluctant to stop and eager to return. So many probl I'll admit that I'm still playing catch-up when it comes to understanding the dynamic world of gender identity that exists outside my little heteronormative and cisgender shell, so I welcome the insights and experiences offered up by the author and the dozens of people they interviewed for this very personal look at issues faced by the LGBTQIA+ community. It took me longer to get through than the average graphic novel, but I always found myself reluctant to stop and eager to return. So many problems stem from the constructions of masculinity and femininity we've built as a society over time and the use of a language where the desire to ignore and hurt that which is outside the binary is inherent and only just starting to change. It's a shame that in addition to all the outside pressures faced, there is internecine strife that can also be damaging, especially since the search for a community where one feels accepted and safe is a recurring theme, one that is pretty universal to humanity regardless of gender. A picayune observation: In a book where every panel seems to be an original illustration, I noticed that the same drawing of the high-heeled shoe of ultimate femininity repeats on pages 76, 243, and 293. I point this out merely to justify the amount of time I spent compulsively combing the book for its previous appearances to verify I wasn't imagining things once it struck me as familiar on its third showing.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Peacegal

    Put away any preconceived notions you may have about this one. It’s not an accusatory screed or a boring or potentially confusing study of gender in society. FINE is a collection of short interviews with people from all over the gender spectrum. If you don’t understand another’s experience, the best thing to do is simply listen. No matter how you feel about or express gender, this book will make you reflect on how arbitrary and stupid many of society’s ideas about it can be. A lot of it is just Put away any preconceived notions you may have about this one. It’s not an accusatory screed or a boring or potentially confusing study of gender in society. FINE is a collection of short interviews with people from all over the gender spectrum. If you don’t understand another’s experience, the best thing to do is simply listen. No matter how you feel about or express gender, this book will make you reflect on how arbitrary and stupid many of society’s ideas about it can be. A lot of it is just stupid (gendered colors), but other aspects are profoundly damaging (“boys don’t cry,” etc.)

  7. 5 out of 5

    R.J. Sorrento

    I read this book in two sittings, and took a much needed break because this book was a lot for me to process as a gender fluid person. It stirred up so many feelings and memories and fears of my own as I read about the varied experiences people of all genders experience. The social exclusion and finding community part of this graphic book hit me the hardest. FINE is quite the powerful graphic memoir that I highly recommend to everyone willing to read with an open mind and heart. Gender and expres I read this book in two sittings, and took a much needed break because this book was a lot for me to process as a gender fluid person. It stirred up so many feelings and memories and fears of my own as I read about the varied experiences people of all genders experience. The social exclusion and finding community part of this graphic book hit me the hardest. FINE is quite the powerful graphic memoir that I highly recommend to everyone willing to read with an open mind and heart. Gender and expression are not easy to define, and they can mean different things to different people especially when one considers race, cultural background, socioeconomic status, even location. FINE did a great job of progressing through the years with the interviews and became more intersectional and inclusive regarding gender, sexuality, race, and cultural background, too. There are opposing views in this book because the author interviewed a wide variety of people, but it illustrates the different ways people experience gender and expression. We don’t always have to agree to understand. We just need to be open and to listen, especially to the voices who tend to be silenced and ignored such as the voices of trans women of color. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an eARC. This is my honest review.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Karen Foster

    This graphic memoir of Rhea’s own journey as they conducted research and interviews discussing gender identity, was really so great. Nuanced and sensitive, the complexity of the experiences and feelings are depicted with such honesty, and the true diversity of the participants, made for such an informative piece of art. Language is constantly shifting, and every experience is so different. I felt like I learned so much, and have so much more to learn.

  9. 4 out of 5

    mia

    I really appreciated the diversity of experiences that were covered in this!!!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Allyn (booksandcatsandnaps)

    An ARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This book is dedicated to everyone who wonders if they are enough. You are enough. This book is amazing, phenomenal, fantastic, great, wonderful, and so many other words. This entire book was a heartpunch. It is also a memoir, a journey, a conversation, and a damn good graphic novel. It touches on so many topics that it makes it hard to list them all but I'm going to try: masculinity, femininity, race, culture, g An ARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This book is dedicated to everyone who wonders if they are enough. You are enough. This book is amazing, phenomenal, fantastic, great, wonderful, and so many other words. This entire book was a heartpunch. It is also a memoir, a journey, a conversation, and a damn good graphic novel. It touches on so many topics that it makes it hard to list them all but I'm going to try: masculinity, femininity, race, culture, gender, identity, language, privilege, expression, healthcare, housing and more. This book introduces you to a verity of diverse people and shows how their different identities intersect and influence the way they all experience and see gender. I believe everyone should read and discuss this book. It's such an an amazing look into the complexities of gender and identity. Definitely do yourself a favor and pick this book up when it comes out. You won't be disappointed. I interviewed people of all gender identities and histories. I chose to include cisgender people (loosely defined here as people who do identify as the gender they were assigned at birth), in addition to transgender people (loosely defined here as people who do not identify as the gender they were assigned at birth) because gender is something we all grapple with. This book has content warnings listed in the beginning of the book:  Gender dysphoria, transphobia, racism, ableism, and body-issues are discussed throughout the book. Drug use, sex work, and suicidal ideation are mentioned briefly in some stories. There is one depiction of a suicide attempt that may be especially challenging to some readers (on the page before there is a warning)

  11. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    They say that psychologists go into the profession to heal themselves. Rhea started interviewing transfolk about gender and transgender and such, because they wanted to know what it was all about, both for a generally moving set of stories, but for how it related to them. The interviews span over several years. Some people are identified, and others, such as the superhero woman, are not. Each person has a different take on what it means to be transsexual, or gender fluid. Some have suffered more ha They say that psychologists go into the profession to heal themselves. Rhea started interviewing transfolk about gender and transgender and such, because they wanted to know what it was all about, both for a generally moving set of stories, but for how it related to them. The interviews span over several years. Some people are identified, and others, such as the superhero woman, are not. Each person has a different take on what it means to be transsexual, or gender fluid. Some have suffered more harassment than others. Rhea, themself, found that the harassment was worse in rural areas, then in a city. The stories themselves are very moving, as is Rhea's which is interjected from time to time to show where they are now. Rhea brings up how race plays a factor, because, it does, and how poverty plays into things. Very comprehensive, but not something you would want to read to be entertained, so much, as informed, or validated. Hard book to read, not because the language is hard, or the pictures are not easy to loook at, but because of all the sadness there is. That and the hatred. Thanks to Edelweiss for making this book available for an honest review.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Megan Rose

    *4.5 Fine: A Comic About Gender is such an important story, and one I think everyone should read if they have the chance. This comic brought up such an important conversation about gender, and I really do believe everyone can benefit from reading it. Each person will take away something different, I feel. Even for those who think they have a good grasp on what gender is, and especially for those who are unsure or questioning, this story is for you. Fine could even be used to teach others just how *4.5 Fine: A Comic About Gender is such an important story, and one I think everyone should read if they have the chance. This comic brought up such an important conversation about gender, and I really do believe everyone can benefit from reading it. Each person will take away something different, I feel. Even for those who think they have a good grasp on what gender is, and especially for those who are unsure or questioning, this story is for you. Fine could even be used to teach others just how complex gender is, and how it’s unique to each person. This comic wonderfully illustrates that concept through the different interviews. Rhea’s individual story woven throughout was so special and really brought home the whole point of the comic. I laughed, I smiled, I frowned, I cried, and I learned. I think that’s the most important thing I can take away from my time with Fine. We all stand to learn more about ourselves and about others, and this comic was a fantastic way for me to do that. Not only did it help me to understand the experience of others a little better, but it also brought up personal questions that I might not have had an answer to. While the story and content were both amazing, I also have to give a nod to the artwork. It captured the feelings and emotions felt by the various people so perfectly. It showed Rhea’s confusion, their hesitancy, their discomfort in their own body, but it also showed the stark difference between the earlier years of the comic and the later ones when they became more comfortable and had a better understanding of who they are. Each person introduced had a style that was distinctive to them. I can’t praise this enough, because while it was a way to make sure each person was their own, it also reinforced how each of us experience gender and life differently. I’m so glad I came across Fine while I was browsing NetGalley one day. I was looking for more graphic novels and comics, so when I saw this one, I thought it would be a perfect fit for me and immediately requested it. I was right. This was such a profound read, and I highly encourage everyone to pick it up for themselves. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a digital ARC in exchange for my honest opinion!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Molly

    I think this was a very sprawling and intimate look at one person's search to better understand themselves and their place in the increasingly complicated scheme of gender, sexuality and identity. It was very personal, and I think that everyone who shared a story in it has really helped show others that there is no one way to be a person, in any sense. It felt a little long and unstructured to me, and while I didn't think it was possible, it left me with even more questions about gender and iden I think this was a very sprawling and intimate look at one person's search to better understand themselves and their place in the increasingly complicated scheme of gender, sexuality and identity. It was very personal, and I think that everyone who shared a story in it has really helped show others that there is no one way to be a person, in any sense. It felt a little long and unstructured to me, and while I didn't think it was possible, it left me with even more questions about gender and identity than I had beforehand; but I think it's an important addition to the growing canon of lgbtqia+ graphic memoirs/non-fiction.

  14. 4 out of 5

    mel

    This book is an amazing explanation/reflexion of how people can feel about gender. Through the interviews and the biographical parts, put in comic book form, I really connected with those people. It felt somewhat intimate and personal, and did help me put into words feelings and thoughts about Gender. I really liked that Rhea Ewing put a good diversity of humans, as much as they could within their means as disclaimed in the introduction. It made me see how gender is viewed or experienced in diff This book is an amazing explanation/reflexion of how people can feel about gender. Through the interviews and the biographical parts, put in comic book form, I really connected with those people. It felt somewhat intimate and personal, and did help me put into words feelings and thoughts about Gender. I really liked that Rhea Ewing put a good diversity of humans, as much as they could within their means as disclaimed in the introduction. It made me see how gender is viewed or experienced in different environments than mine (white francophone lesbian). While it didn't give an answer to what it gender (because no one can really claim they have the answer to that), it illustrated many view on the definition of, some which resonated with me, some didn't, some changed my vision of things. I think this is a great book for people like me who are questioning themselves because it gives tracks to start your own journey, and it lets us see that we are no alone in those thoughts. Because it is so direct since we get the words of the interviewed people, I think it would also help people like parents or people who didn't grow up learning about this concept understand it. There is no never ending explanations, just human experience: anyone will resonate with that. To conclude, this book definitely helped me putting words on some of my feelings, and helped understand how to be a better person for trans people around me, may they be nonbinary, ftm, mtf, genderqueer, etc. 5/5 stars, incredible book, will for sure get myself a physical copy to reread when I need it and to keep as a reference. Thank you #NetGalley for giving me access to this ARC!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    I have been waiting for a book like Fine for a long time. This excellent nonfiction graphic comic/memoir is an incredible resource for conversations about gender, in all its intersections with race, age, and other identities. This reminds me of "Good Talk" in the ways in which it illustrates the conversations that are happening between Rhea, as they interview people to ask how they identify, reflect on concepts such as "feminine" and "masculine," and speak to their experiences based on gender id I have been waiting for a book like Fine for a long time. This excellent nonfiction graphic comic/memoir is an incredible resource for conversations about gender, in all its intersections with race, age, and other identities. This reminds me of "Good Talk" in the ways in which it illustrates the conversations that are happening between Rhea, as they interview people to ask how they identify, reflect on concepts such as "feminine" and "masculine," and speak to their experiences based on gender identity, expression, sexuality, etc. It also reminds me of "The Undocumented Americans" in the way that Rhea as an interviewer is imbedded in the community that they interview -- some of the interviewees have had similar experiences of questioning and gender dysphoria, and these conversations come amidst a struggle for Rhea understand their own identity at the same time. Both of those books are two of my favorites that have come out in the last few years, and are some of the books that I most frequently recommend to folks that are looking for antiracist learning material. While Rhea is a white person, they do interview a diverse set of folks that live in the Midwest, and the way in which gender identity impacts basic lived experiences from getting housing to using a public restroom to finding community - is deeply moving and relevant for frontline, social services work. I will absolutely be buying copies of this to share in our reading group at work. There is so much nuance in this graphic novel, with stories that directly conflict, and with language that shifts between different users both in talking about their communities and themselves, and while it's in a specific geographic area, you get a diverse set of stories that shows how boring the binary is and how much larger our understanding of gender could be (if we need that at all!). Complex, great for starting a conversation, and sure to be a hit when it comes out. Thanks to NetGalley for an early review copy, all opinions are my own.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    This book is outstanding, and gave me a lot to think about. The author came slowly to the realization that they were trans/nonbinary. Before that realization, they started a project on interviewing people about what they thought/felt about gender and their own stories, and writing short comic pieces about each person. The book collect those interviews, organized by subject matter, so there are multiple pieces about many people. Some people were interviewed more than once, in different years. The This book is outstanding, and gave me a lot to think about. The author came slowly to the realization that they were trans/nonbinary. Before that realization, they started a project on interviewing people about what they thought/felt about gender and their own stories, and writing short comic pieces about each person. The book collect those interviews, organized by subject matter, so there are multiple pieces about many people. Some people were interviewed more than once, in different years. The years range from 2011 to 2018; mostly 2012-13. The author's own story is treated like the others, and makes the book partly memoir. The book is as inclusive as possible (given that, I think, all interviewees are American). Straight, gay, cis, trans male and female, quite a few BIPOC people, and, most notably, a lot of genderqueer people who don't fit into any easy category. The author lets the people talk, and everyone comes across clearly. Most (all?) of them seem to be delightful people, too! I think this is due to the author's open and curious approach when they talk with people. There are sections on femininity and masculinity (I am cis female but have never fit into the traditional roles, so I liked those - it's a confusing subject), gender presentation, hormones, relationships, bathrooms, and many more. This book is not the fastest read. The panels are not complicated and don't have more words than most comics, but the subject matter is deep and thought-provoking, and the people are engaging. The combination of one author writing comics about themself and other people gives the book the best features of personal memoir and anthologies (no problem of uneven quality!). I am asking my trans/genderqueer partner to read the whole book, which I rarely do. I like it that much. Highly recommended.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Estibaliz79

    Very educational and thought provoking, in kind of a gentle way. Also a bit dense at times, if you are not really in the right mindset for this in deep discussion, albeit necessary. I think my problem is I don't really give as much thought to the question of gender as it would be required to fully enjoy this graphic novel. I would say I'm kind of an agnostic here, as I respect all kind of gender identity, but it's not really something that is on my mind often. Of course, this read has made me real Very educational and thought provoking, in kind of a gentle way. Also a bit dense at times, if you are not really in the right mindset for this in deep discussion, albeit necessary. I think my problem is I don't really give as much thought to the question of gender as it would be required to fully enjoy this graphic novel. I would say I'm kind of an agnostic here, as I respect all kind of gender identity, but it's not really something that is on my mind often. Of course, this read has made me realize how detrimental that can be at times, but still, it doesn't change the fact that my enjoyment of 'Fine' stays on the 3.5 range. Still, highly recommended for everyone, and I really appreciated the openness and the acknowledgment of the fact that everyone, including the trans community, can be too unforgiving of others that don't fit one given mold.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jellybean

    I was very excited to read an advanced reader copy of a "comic about gender," thinking it would be something in the vein of Alex Iantaffi and Meg-John Barker. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a talking heads documentary in comic-book form from the perspective of a young, white, naive non-binary person. For someone who is at the very beginning of their journey of questioning their gender, this may be a comforting approach. This may also be a good book for cis people. For this particular trans r I was very excited to read an advanced reader copy of a "comic about gender," thinking it would be something in the vein of Alex Iantaffi and Meg-John Barker. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a talking heads documentary in comic-book form from the perspective of a young, white, naive non-binary person. For someone who is at the very beginning of their journey of questioning their gender, this may be a comforting approach. This may also be a good book for cis people. For this particular trans reader, however, it felt like a lot of conversations about gender with cis strangers. Conversations I choose to engage in out of an effort to protect trans folks seeking care through certain institutions but conversations that definitely take a toll on my mental health as my humanity and needs are often undermined by cis fragility. There was some nuance, acknowledgment of privilege, and definitely a diverse cast of interviewees, but the prevailing tone of naivete and overt niceness was very off-putting. The talking heads style also made it very difficult to feel engaging to me as, beyond thematic associations, there was very little narrative flow (beyond the author's, "gosh, I've never thought of that before" reactions).

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jaclyn Hillis

    What started as a school project, turned into a decade-long quest interviewing (56) people across the spectrum of gender identities. It was beautiful to see how everyone had different answers to all the posed questions. This just goes to show you how fluid gender is and there is more to it than a binary option on a questionnaire. Themes: femininity, masculinity, race, gender expression, body image, hormones, health care, labels, relationships, bathrooms, housing, and the queer community. All of What started as a school project, turned into a decade-long quest interviewing (56) people across the spectrum of gender identities. It was beautiful to see how everyone had different answers to all the posed questions. This just goes to show you how fluid gender is and there is more to it than a binary option on a questionnaire. Themes: femininity, masculinity, race, gender expression, body image, hormones, health care, labels, relationships, bathrooms, housing, and the queer community. All of these things factor into ones identity. Amidst other peoples personal stories is Ewing's own story growing up in rural Kentucky, grappling with their identity as a teenager, and ultimately finding themself. Content warnings: gender dysphoria, transphobia, racism, ableism, body image issues, drug use, sex work, suicidal ideation, suicide attempt Thank you Edelweiss for the Digital Review Copy. Publication date 4/5/22!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Harri

    Fine is a nonfiction graphic novel based on interviews the author had with people about gender. This book is not just from a trans perspective, and includes a wide range of different people and their views and experiences. It is a beautiful exploration of the complexities of gender and how gender means something different to everyone. I liked the art style. There are a wide range of people with different bodies depicted. I would have liked more colour, but that's a personal preference. The graphi Fine is a nonfiction graphic novel based on interviews the author had with people about gender. This book is not just from a trans perspective, and includes a wide range of different people and their views and experiences. It is a beautiful exploration of the complexities of gender and how gender means something different to everyone. I liked the art style. There are a wide range of people with different bodies depicted. I would have liked more colour, but that's a personal preference. The graphic novel format works really well for the subject matter. It makes it easy to really engage with the interviews, without things getting boring or repetitive. The interviews are chopped up and then grouped by theme, so that the book jumps backwards and forwards between the different people as they discuss the different topics. I appreciated the exploration of different intersections of identity, and how that affects a person's view of gender, for example the way that gender intersects with race or disability. The author's own, very personal story is also woven inbetween the interviews. It's interesting that the process of making the book helped the author to figure out their own trans identity. I was able to read the whole book in pretty much one sitting and I really enjoyed it. The book has a mix of positive stories and more traumatic stories, but overall it has a predominantly hopeful feeling to it, and I felt good once I had finished it.

  21. 5 out of 5

    AJ

    I received an advance copy of this book free in exchange for an honest unbiased review. I don't think comparing this to Alison Bechdel's work did this book any favors. Stylistically there are obvious similarities but it lacks the dry self-effacing humor that makes Bechdel's writing something special and the meaningful introspection that makes Maia Kobabe's GenderQueer a must read. The pacing dragged. The author's presence in the story would have been better served with a lighter touch, more showi I received an advance copy of this book free in exchange for an honest unbiased review. I don't think comparing this to Alison Bechdel's work did this book any favors. Stylistically there are obvious similarities but it lacks the dry self-effacing humor that makes Bechdel's writing something special and the meaningful introspection that makes Maia Kobabe's GenderQueer a must read. The pacing dragged. The author's presence in the story would have been better served with a lighter touch, more showing than telling. For the first 234 pages it lived up to its name in full. It was fine, not good, just fine. It seemed in want of a thesis for so long, I'd given up hope of one. The final two chapters, however, were something genuinely special, and the first time the work took an interesting focus and really developed something meaningful to add to the broader conversation. In short, this is a decent set of graphic-novel style interview transcripts on the nature of gender with a focus on transgender, gender queer, and GNC identities. Plus a heavy, and at times unhelpful, element of autobiography. If you want to cut straight to the good stuff start at the chapter on Queer Community at 235 and go from there.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    This book does a great job at introducing the reader to many different ways people identify and it's being published at exactly the right time. The author started this project while in college, partly as a way to understand their own identity. They interviewed numerous people and compiled those interviews into this book. With so many books being challenged in libraries, we needed something like Fine. There are no sexual images for the pearl-clutchers to point to as a reason to exclude this title This book does a great job at introducing the reader to many different ways people identify and it's being published at exactly the right time. The author started this project while in college, partly as a way to understand their own identity. They interviewed numerous people and compiled those interviews into this book. With so many books being challenged in libraries, we needed something like Fine. There are no sexual images for the pearl-clutchers to point to as a reason to exclude this title from a collection. It doesn't preach or dictate. What it does is allow people to better understand one another and don't we all need a little more understanding in our lives? I couldn't be happier with Fine. The diversity is a welcome breath of fresh air. I have already recommended it to colleagues and friends and I only finished it yesterday! My thanks to Liveright Publishing and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Katelyn Morgan

    I have been amazed at the ability of graphic novels to artfully approach difficult topics, and Rhea Ewing's "Fine" does so with a deeply personal expertise. Ewing's exploration of gender identity and the social landscape is rooted in the real-life experiences of interview subjects from most walks of life. Ewing tackles difficult subjects related to gender and sex, such as disparities in healthcare, relational intimacy, housing, race, and community, and does so in a way that encourages the reader I have been amazed at the ability of graphic novels to artfully approach difficult topics, and Rhea Ewing's "Fine" does so with a deeply personal expertise. Ewing's exploration of gender identity and the social landscape is rooted in the real-life experiences of interview subjects from most walks of life. Ewing tackles difficult subjects related to gender and sex, such as disparities in healthcare, relational intimacy, housing, race, and community, and does so in a way that encourages the reader to dive into these issues, not despite the discomfort, but BECAUSE of it. Not since Maia Kobabe's "Gender Queer" have I wanted to shove a graphic novel into the hands of every person I meet, but Rhea Ewing's "Fine" makes me want to do just that. "Find who you aren't connected with - the people who power ignores. Then listen. Then build." - Rhea Ewing

  24. 5 out of 5

    DK

    I'm absolutely blown away by this book! I loved the art style, the format, the structure, and the way the author weaves in their story with the interviews. I really appreciated that of the 56 people interviewed for this book, there's a great mix of representation with people from different racial groups, age groups, abilities, gender and sexual identities, religions, and socioeconomic backgrounds. I truly felt connected to the various people who shared their stories; many of them I related to be I'm absolutely blown away by this book! I loved the art style, the format, the structure, and the way the author weaves in their story with the interviews. I really appreciated that of the 56 people interviewed for this book, there's a great mix of representation with people from different racial groups, age groups, abilities, gender and sexual identities, religions, and socioeconomic backgrounds. I truly felt connected to the various people who shared their stories; many of them I related to because I had similar experiences or knew people who had or are going through similar things. While many of the interviews got into personal experiences, there's underlying common themes that are highlighted in different chapters in the book (i.e. bathrooms, housing, relationships, healthcare). I loved learning from the different interviewees and the author, and feeling embraced by this wider community of folks I'll probably never meet but who share similar dreams and goals. This book is enlightening, inspiring, and challenging. Highly recommend!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    This was a really interesting look into the diverse identities and expressions experienced across a variety of people. I especially appreciated the perspectives of older trans people, because they are not a demographic I've heard from very often. This book covers gender identity in a pretty complex way and also explores various issues that effect the trans community, such as healthcare, housing, and community support. It covers a span of quite a few years as well, so it was interesting to see ho This was a really interesting look into the diverse identities and expressions experienced across a variety of people. I especially appreciated the perspectives of older trans people, because they are not a demographic I've heard from very often. This book covers gender identity in a pretty complex way and also explores various issues that effect the trans community, such as healthcare, housing, and community support. It covers a span of quite a few years as well, so it was interesting to see how the language somewhat changed and evolved since Ewing began these interviews. I really liked how the author weaved their personal gender discovery and exploration into the narrative. This book felt unique in that it did follow one narrator, but the reoccurring people they interviewed were also complex supporting characters; it felt like watching a documentary. Thank you, NetGalley for an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

  26. 4 out of 5

    April Gray

    There are going to be more well-written reviews than mine for this book, but if I can impress on anyone reading this review that you need to read this, I'll have done something good. Gender is such a tricky, wriggly subject, and this book helps the reader process all that trickiness into something more easily understandable. This project started after the author got asked what their pronouns were for the first time, leading them to get really interested in what gender was. Ewing interviewed doze There are going to be more well-written reviews than mine for this book, but if I can impress on anyone reading this review that you need to read this, I'll have done something good. Gender is such a tricky, wriggly subject, and this book helps the reader process all that trickiness into something more easily understandable. This project started after the author got asked what their pronouns were for the first time, leading them to get really interested in what gender was. Ewing interviewed dozens of people, including both trans and cis gendered folks, to get a variety of perspectives on the subject, and the results are presented here in a thoughtful, sensitive way that is non-judgemental, straightforward, and easy to understand (*mostly* easy, gender's still tricky). I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone and everyone - it will make you think about what gender is (and isn't), and help you to understand the perspectives of others who might not have the same ideas about it as you do. #Fine #NetGalley

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kiri

    Thank you NetGalley for allowing me to read a digital sample of this book in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own. "Fine" by Rhea Ewing is a fantastic graphic novel that takes a deep look into gender through interviews with friends of the author and strangers from all over the country. A lot of topics around gender are covered in this book and each one made me stop and think for a while. It was much more than what I was expecting, in a very pleasant way and was an insightful read. I hig Thank you NetGalley for allowing me to read a digital sample of this book in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own. "Fine" by Rhea Ewing is a fantastic graphic novel that takes a deep look into gender through interviews with friends of the author and strangers from all over the country. A lot of topics around gender are covered in this book and each one made me stop and think for a while. It was much more than what I was expecting, in a very pleasant way and was an insightful read. I highly recommend it and will definitely be putting it on the purchase list for the high school library I work for.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Isabel Ortiz

    I absolutely loved this book! Rhea Ewing does a fantastic job of constructing and deconstructing the idea of gender in a way that is completely accessible regardless of your background with LGBTQ+ topics and communities. This book kept me fully immersed and I easily read it in one sitting. I have never before questioned my gender and this book had me thinking about considerations of masculinity/femininity/the gender binary (or lack thereof) that I never would have thought about otherwise. I high I absolutely loved this book! Rhea Ewing does a fantastic job of constructing and deconstructing the idea of gender in a way that is completely accessible regardless of your background with LGBTQ+ topics and communities. This book kept me fully immersed and I easily read it in one sitting. I have never before questioned my gender and this book had me thinking about considerations of masculinity/femininity/the gender binary (or lack thereof) that I never would have thought about otherwise. I highly recommend for anyone looking to have their mind blown (in the best way possible!) Thank you to NetGalley for the advanced readers copy of this book!!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Amanda [Novel Addiction]

    I didn't realize how many questions I had about gender until I read this. I don't think I could easily define "feminine" or "masculine" if someone asked me. Do I only define things as either one of those because society tells me to, or do I truly feel that way? An excellent book. It's listed as a memoir, and there is some personal reflection and Rhea Ewing's own journey... but it's also so much more. I didn't realize how many questions I had about gender until I read this. I don't think I could easily define "feminine" or "masculine" if someone asked me. Do I only define things as either one of those because society tells me to, or do I truly feel that way? An excellent book. It's listed as a memoir, and there is some personal reflection and Rhea Ewing's own journey... but it's also so much more.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Chris Breitenbach

    This was very good. Ewing interviewed dozens of people "of all genders identities and histories" and their stories, along with Ewing's own, are rendered here. I found it illuminating, heartbreaking and inspiring. And complex. As Ewing writes, "Gender is complicated and variable, a language with a billion different dialects." And they do a wonderful job of attempting to distil just a few of those many dialects in this impressive debut. This was very good. Ewing interviewed dozens of people "of all genders identities and histories" and their stories, along with Ewing's own, are rendered here. I found it illuminating, heartbreaking and inspiring. And complex. As Ewing writes, "Gender is complicated and variable, a language with a billion different dialects." And they do a wonderful job of attempting to distil just a few of those many dialects in this impressive debut.

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