Men I Trust

Lambda award-winner Tommi Parrish (The Lie and How We Told It), a trans Australian cartoonist and painter living in Massachusetts, explores complex relationships in Men I Trust. Audiences--especially those in early adulthood struggling to tame uncertain lives--will undoubtedly find resonance with Parrish's narrative. Their vibrant watercolor art provides the distinctly memorable encounter here, stylized characters presented with comparatively smaller heads atop oversized bodies, as if literally lumbering, even stumbling, through various experiences, from the quotidian to the transformative.

Eliza, in her 30s, is a poet, deli worker and single mother enduring toxic exchanges with her son's father. Her only self-care is attending AA meetings. Sasha, in her 20s, has survived "a rough year" and recently moved back in with her parents. She wanders into a small venue where Eliza is in mid-performance and is enthralled enough to stay late to help Eliza and her son carry Eliza's equipment home. Finishing his last drink at his local bar, Andrew texts Sasha, who doesn't answer. After listening to a radio show on "earthing," he strips naked, lies down in his back yard and falls asleep. The inevitable collision of these three is painful to witness but, for at least for one of them, proves freeing.

Parrish deftly unfolds layers of misunderstandings between strangers, family, lovers--each desperate for connection--with affecting bluntness. Despite the title, neither men nor women seem particularly worthy of trust. Parrish's panels--mostly six to a page--are vivid enhancements, providing more nuanced details through street scenes, graffiti, refrigerator contents, knick-knacks on shelves. That the final panel is the ghostly beginnings of a sketch in progress signals potential for more--for both the characters and readers. --Terry Hong, BookDragon

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