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Special Exits by Joyce Farmer

Book cover for Special Exits
$9.07  
Farmer’s memoir chronicles the decline of the author’s parents’ health, their relationship with one another and with their their daughter, and how they cope with the day-to-day emotional fragility of the most taxing time of their lives. Elderly parents Lara and Rachel, who have enjoyed a long and loving married life together, are rendered in fine, confident pen lines. Set in southern Los Angeles, backgrounds and props are lovingly detailed: these objects serve as memory triggers for Lars and Rachel, even as they eventually overwhelm them and their home, which the couple is loathe to leave. Special Exits is laid out in an eight-panel grid, which creates a leisurely storytelling pace that not only helps to convey the slow, inexorable decline in Lars’ and Rachel’s health, but perfectly captures the timbre of the exchanges between a long-married couple: the affectionate bickering; their gallows humor; their querulousness as their bodies break down. Though Lars and Rachel are the protagonists of Special Exits, Farmer makes her voice known through creative visual metaphors and in her indictment of the careless treatment of the elderly in nursing homes.

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