Lighter Than My Shadow

Written & Illustrated by: Katie Green

For ages: Teens and Up

Language: English

Topics Covered: Growing Up, Eating Disorders, Assault, Resilience, Bravery, Family, Friendship, Love, Acceptance, Mental Health, Recovery, Trauma, Graphic Novel.

Summary: This hefty 500 page graphic novel covers main character Katie’s life from childhood to college-first for biology and then for art school.  Katie has always had a problem eating, but things changed when she was a teenager and people started commenting on each others bodies.  She developed anorexia in high school, and had to take some time off before senior exams to gain weight back and try to recover.  Katie gets well enough to go back to school, but is constant turmoil, figuring out what she can do next.

While recovering, Katie meets an alternative healer and becomes infatuated with him and his family, truly believing that he wants to help her.  He encourages Katie to leave her family and friends behind as part of her healing process, and to spend time with him instead.  Katie accompanies the family to a music festival, and he assaults her.  Suddenly, Katie realizes that he has been doing this while “healing her energy” and Katie’s world comes crashing down.  She becomes stuck in a cycle of college classes, disordered eating, and trauma processing.

This is an honest look at living with an eating disorder, and if a person can ever truly be healed or not. Beautiful illustrations and even more beautiful words make up this fantastic book.  Due to mature themes it is a book for older teens, but it is a book that absolutely should be read!

Reflection Questions:

  • How do you think Katie was impacted by her friend’s reactions to her, both before and after she revealed her anorexia to them?
  • What makes you feel vulnerable? Have you ever made a choice you later regretted because of your feelings of vulnerability?
  • If you have survived trauma of any sort, do you believe that someone can truly be healed?
  • Katie’s relationship with her parents runs the gamut from supportive to strained. Have your parents helped you through hard times? How have they supported you?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • Katie draws her anxiety and disordered thinking as a dark cloud over her head. How do you envision your negative thoughts? Draw yourself and those thoughts.
  • Katie spends a lot of the movie hating her body and the way it looks. Write a letter to your body, and let your emotions flow. How does it feel to write to your body like this?
  • Being vulnerable with other people can be uncomfortable, but valuable if you find trusted resources. If you have such a person in your life, start a conversation about your relationship and its joys.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

bwportraitKatie Green grew up in the London suburbs and moved to Bristol in 2002 to study, where she lived for ten years before moving to her current home in Devon. After completing a degree in Biology she studied Sequential Illustration, graduating with first class honours in 2009.

Her graphic memoir, Lighter Than My Shadow, began as a degree project and was signed up by Jonathan Cape in early 2010. The completed work, some 500 pages, took almost 5 years to complete.

Since the publication of her first book, Katie has worked on zines, short comics and illustrations for select clients as well as her own self-directed creative work. Her work has been featured in several exhibitions, and Katie and gives workshops and presentations around the UK and overseas.

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