Spot 12 delivers the gritty details of a new mother and her newborn daughter, Asa, during a five-month stay in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in this visually gripping graphic memoir by Jenny Jaeckel. A routine prenatal exam reveals a dangerous problem, and Jaeckel and her husband find themselves thrust into a world of close calls, sleepless nights, and psychological crises. Surrounded by disagreements and family tensions, death, and questions of faith, Jaeckel struggles to maintain a positive frame of mind.
Against the antiseptic, mechanical reality of the NICU, the dedicated doctors and nurses are drawn as sympathetic and wry animal characters. Doctor Eyes and Nurse Gentlehands are two of the caring individuals who do all they can to save Baby Asa. At times Jaeckel and her husband battle feelings of helplessness and despair, but their determination, hope, insight, bravery, and connection ultimately helps keep their little girl alive.
“A memorable and beautifully executed memoir of a newborn’s difficult first months.” —Kirkus Reviews
“It’s a sad, lovely, tragic story. It reminds us how close we are to tragedy at any moment in our lives…” —Tom Hart, author of Rosalie Lightning
“Spot 12, the novel, a unique combination of text and remarkable drawings, was able to completely hold my interest. The topic of parenting a critically ill newborn in the NICU is not a new one…But Spot 12 was matchless in its comic book format associating pictures with feelings….It is very impressive.” —Anita Catlin, for Advances in Neonatal Care
Spot 12 is a graphic memoir that follows a couple who go into the hospital for an ultrasound and find out that there are complications with their baby. These complications lead to an unexpected delivery followed by months of surgeries and stress.
This was the second graphic memoir that I have read. Interestingly both are told using animals (specifically mice). I really like this aspect of it as I feel like even kids can read this book and be both interested by it but it also feels like that makes it easier for them to understand.
I thought the narrative itself was really affecting and rather beautiful. I loved the illustrations…the use of black and white only to illustrate this story was essential I think to relaying the kind of emotion that the story has. Put together I felt that the story and the illustrations both complemented and fit together so well. They made the story so easy to follow and understand and really drove home the emotion. I am not a parent myself, but I do feel as though the illustrations and narrative did a really good job of pulling me into the raw emotions of the situation. It was heartbreaking and painful seeing this child and her parent’s suffer in this book, I can’t begin to imagine how it felt in real life.
I am giving this book a five star review, it was definitely sad in some parts and heartwarming in others. It is a super light read and I think also a thought provoking one. Graphic memoir fans may enjoy this title!
Note: I received this book from the author and TLC Book Tours in exchange for my honest review of it. Thank you for the chance to read and review this book!
About Jenny Jaeckel
Jenny Jaeckel holds a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington and a Master of Arts in Hispanic Literatures from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. She is a certified interpreter and translator (Spanish) and teaches illustration. She lives in Victoria, Vancouver Island in British Columbia with her husband and daughter.
Jaeckel is the author and illustrator of three graphic memoirs: Spot 12: Five Months in the Neonatal ICU, which won a 2008 Xeric Grant (printed in Canada, to be released in the US in 2016 in both English and Spanish), Siberiak: My Cold War Adventure on the River Ob (published in 2014), and Odd Pieces: Memoir of a Childhood (to be published in 2017). For the Love of Meat: Nine Illustrated Stories is her first collected fiction (2016).