Passing for Human

Thank you to the lovely people at Random House for my copy of Passing for Human by Liana Finck.  All thoughts and images are my own.


Title: Passing for Human
Author: Liana Finck
Genre: Graphic Memoir
Pub date: September 15, 2018
Read if you like: graphic novels and admittedly unreliable narrators.


This is certainly a special graphic memoir.  Finck’s work is endearing, witty, and heart-breaking.  Ask my roommate Ellen, I was both bubbling with laughter and tearing up as I read this in the living room one night, leading her to ask me multiple times what I was reading.

Finck takes you, the reader, along with her as she searches her past for things she has lost.  She starts at the end and at the beginning and at the middle.  This process of self-discovery is not linear and it is not always right the first time around (or second or third).  It feels organic and unplanned.  According to Finck, she has always had a sense of otherness, of existing in a world somewhat apart from everyone else.  For Finck, this strangeness took the form of her “shadow” – an invisible friend, soul mate, other side of herself, gifted to her by her mother.  Her mother had a shadow too.  So did her mother’s mother.  Regardless of whether or not the shadow is the form it takes, I’m sure many readers will identify with Finck’s personification of something that sets you apart from others.  Something that is there sometimes and gone at other moments.  I certainly did.  And I knew that feeling she referenced of wanting it back.

This memoir struck a chord in my heart.  Between her wonderful illustrations, her witty humor, and her thoughtful self-exploration, I was moved by every page of this graphic tale.  It’s the perfect read for when you want to curl up in a chair with a snuggly blanket and a mug of cider or a glass of wine, and remain there for an entire hour.  Let yourself fall into the world of Passing for Human.

Interested in Passing for Human?


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A collection of my favorite graphic stories.


A visually arresting graphic memoir about a young artist struggling against what’s expected of her as a woman, and learning to accept her true self, from an acclaimed New Yorker cartoonist.

In this achingly beautiful graphic memoir, Liana Finck goes in search of that thing she has lost—her shadow, she calls it, but one might also think of it as the “otherness” or “strangeness” that has defined her since birth, that part of her that has always made her feel as though she is living in exile from the world. 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?

Passing for Human is what Finck calls “a neurological coming-of-age story”—one in which, through her childhood, human connection proved elusive and her most enduring relationships were with plants and rocks and imaginary friends; in which her mother was an artist whose creative life had been stifled by an unhappy first marriage and a deeply sexist society that seemed expressly designed to snuff out creativity in women; in which her father was a doctor who struggled in secret with the guilt of having passed his own form of otherness on to his daughter; and in which, as an adult, Finck finally finds her shadow again—and, with it, her true self.

Melancholy and funny, personal and surreal, Passing for Humanis a profound exploration of identity by one of the most talented young comic artists working today. Part magical odyssey, part feminist creation myth, this memoir is, most of all, an extraordinary, moving meditation on what it means to be an artist and a woman grappling with the desire to pass for human.

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