Published by Raincloud Press on October 7, 2016
Source: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via TLC Book Tours for review consideration.
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Spot 12 delivers the gritty details of a mother, a newborn, and a five-month stay in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in a visually gripping graphic memoir by Jenny Jaeckel. A routine prenatal exam reveals a dangerous problem, and first-time parents find themselves thrust into a world of close calls, sleepless nights, and psychological crisis. Surrounded by disagreements, deaths, extended family tensions, and questions of faith, the mother struggles to maintain a positive frame of mind.
Against the antiseptic, mechanical reality of the NICU, the dedicated health professionals are drawn as sympathetic and wry animal characters. Doctor Eyes and Nurse Gentlehands are two of the care providers that do all they can to take care of Baby Asa. But even the best hospital staff make mistakes, and Jaeckel and her husband’s vigilance must be acute. At times they battle feelings of helplessness, but their determination, insight, bravery, and connection ultimately helps keep their little one alive.
Holy crap. This is what the NICU experience is like from the mom’s point of view. The helplessness of not being able to do anything. The struggle of holding yourself together, and then realizing you need help. What an accurate portrayal, all the way down to people you love sometimes making things worse, and people who should know better dismissing clear signs of PTSD.
Jaeckel is kinda crunchy: She was anti-vax, she wanted a home birth. This unexpected turn of events forced her to reevaluate some of the choices she was sure were best for her baby.
Spot 12 is a graphic memoir. Its black and white illustrations were stark and severe, which felt appropriate. People are depicted as animals with (somewhat silly) fake names. But you know, going through an experience like this is inconceivable—and then you’re thrown into it and it seems so unreal. Jaeckel’s style pinpoints the absurd horror, as well as the strange detachment, many moms facing this situation feel.
If you have a friend with a baby currently (or recently) in the NICU, I wouldn’t call Spot 12 a “safe” gift; Jaeckel’s baby faced some especially dire challenges, and it’s a very emotional read. But this is certainly a book you might want to point them to later on down the road. I wish I could hand this out to everyone else, though, because it is sure to foster better understanding about the real, long-lasting stress that NICU parents work through.
Thanks to TLC Book Tours, one lucky reader (US or Canada only) will win a copy of Spot 12. Giveaway ends at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, October 30. Check out what other readers have to say about Spot 12 by visiting other stops on the tour.
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