Take What You Can Carry
Take what you can carry tells the story of two teenage boys, one, Ken is a Japanese American being shipped out to an internment camp after the bombing of Pearl Harbour, the other, Kyle has just moved home and has taken to stealing from the local store.
The artwork is very attractive, differentiating between the two stories by presenting Ken’s tale in a mix of brown watercolours while Kyle’s is represented in a land of solid blues.
This clash of styles works brilliantly, giving a ken a feeling of times gone by while capturing the gloomy feeling of Kyle’s newfound situation.
Ken’s story is told without dialogue and this is perhaps the weakest thing about the book. Going into this book I was totally unaware that Japanese Americans had been forced out of their homes into these camps and without any expository dialogue I found it difficult to understand what was happening in these chapters.
The art style also makes it difficult, attractive as it is, when reading it can feel rather crude and stiff making it difficult on occasion to tell exactly what is supposed to be happening.
Kyle’s story is a little more straight forward and is the more enjoyable of the two. He moves house with his father and finds himself bored in the new town, beginning to steal from stores and vandalise a local building site.
He’s by no means a bad kid, more so an inconsiderate one in a very literal sense of the word, he simply doesn’t think that his actions would have consequences for others.
As he works in the store he stole from to pay of his debt he gradually comes round to a more sensible way of thinking in a character arc that feels clichéd but is still satisfying.
Overall it’s a good graphic novel, the historical notes at the end shed light on Ken’s story which was the only part I didn’t enjoy, I’d happily go back through it now I have an understanding of what is happening.
As I went through the book I was frustrated that I didn’t see much in the way of a link between the two stories which honestly I still don’t see but the tying together of the two stories towards the end is a satisfying one.