Fugue by Beth Hetland

Fugue by Beth HetlandFugue by Beth Hetland
Published by Hooray for Comics on March 15th 2014
Pages: 136
Source: I purchased a copy of this book.

This graphic memoir follows the Hetland family as they grow up, spanning over 40 years of story and music.

I purchased the first part of Fugue on Comixology and loved it so much, I ended up going to the author’s website to buy the omnibus in print. This is a multigenerational memoir of the Hetland family, focusing on the role and the importance of music in their lives.

I love how accurate the illustrations are! This might sound like a silly point, but too often I see music notation and instruments drawn incorrectly. It’s nice to see that attention to detail, even when Hetland uses some artistic license, such as on page 6, featuring Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. I looked at the floating music notes and could hear the piece in my mind. There’s just enough there to make the piece recognizable – the rhythm and the shape of the melodic line – without interfering with the art itself:

(Thanks to Beth Hetland for her permission to include a photo of this page.)


I have to admit; this page made me tear up. Hetland knows when to use words, and when more can be stated without. I connected with this page as a musician myself, having spent countless hours alone, practicing; and as a music teacher who has worked with children from a young age until they graduate high school.

Now, I have a daughter of my own who enjoys music. It’s a tricky situation: How do I encourage her without putting my expectations before her own? I felt for Patricia as she navigated these same questions and looked for that balance.

Although music plays a huge part in the Hetland family’s life, you don’t have to be musical at all to enjoy this memoir. Fugue is a lovely depiction of mothers and daughters navigating the similarities and differences between them in order to foster their relationships, especially as they enter different stages in their lives.