Eisele, Terry & Riddle, Jonathon – With Only Five Plums Book 1: The Time Before

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With Only Five Plums Book 1: The Time Before

What a haunting and riveting story this is, even though this is only the first of three books. There were all sorts of horrors going on during World War II, and this is the tale of Anna Nesporova and her life in the small Czech town of Lidice. Jonathon spends an admirable amount of time setting up Anna and her family as people, as it would have been easy to jump right into the more heartbreaking elements of the story. Actually, that’s not completely accurate, as getting to know that Anna still remembers the way her brother’s smile ticked up at one corner of his mouth more than 60 years later is pretty much the definition of heartbreaking. But we briefly see Anna grow up and get a good idea of her life in general before things start falling apart. An assassination attempt was made on an important German officer in charge of keeping the peace in Lidice and it was suspected that Anna’s brother (who had left them two years earlier in the hopes of sparing them this kind of attention) was involved. The Germans decided to make an example out of her family, but Anna managed to survive due to her pregnancy. I know that things are going to get grim but nothing is really known about what happened to her family or baby at this point, although I know enough about the history to know that it wasn’t anything good. Jonathon made the choice to let this breathe as a story told by Anna, so there are very few word balloons and a few times when he briefly pops into the story to try to get more details out of Anna or to ask her if she’d like to take a break. It’s impossible to avoid comparison to Maus when you’re talking about a comic set in World War II, and in the early stages I’d say that this has the potential to be as important as that. Who knows how people will actually receive it, but this is a story that needs to be told, especially as things get worse in Europe again. The recent anti-gay marriage marches have shown that homophobia and racism are right there under the surface, and it needs to be made clear to this generation that something like this could happen again, sadly enough. Humanity never seems to learn. On that cheery note, give this comic a shot. I think this is self-published and it deserves a wider audience. Oh, and I didn’t make it clear in the review, so I should mention that this is all based on conversations with Anna, but that some things are fictional, or events that happened at the time but not necessarily to Anna. $10

withonlyfiveplums12

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