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With The Light Volume 1

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With The Light Volume 1 manga graphic novel by Keiko Tobe, published by Yen Press / Akita Shoten

With The Light Volume 1

© Keiko Tobe / Akita Shoten

The Bottom Line

With The Light is an engaging, true-to-life story about a young mother's experiences raising her autistic son. While it does pack in a lot of interesting, useful information about autism, it also has a heaping helping of soapy melodrama, kind of like watching a Lifetime TV movie or Hallmark Theater special.

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Pros

  • Explains autism in an emotionally credible, informative and engaging way
  • Soft, feminine artwork and storytelling is perfect match for this story
  • A heart-warming, genre-expanding manga story that will interest even non-manga readers

Cons

  • Lots of soapy, melodramatic moments with a dash of preachiness
  • Most of the supporting characters are two-dimensional, either helpful or hurtful and not much more
  • An interesting read, but its domestic drama is not for every manga fan's taste

Description

  • Original Title: Hikari no Tomoni (Japan)
  • Author & Artist: Keiko Tobe
  • Publishers:
  • ISBN: 978-0-7595-2356-2
  • Cover Price: $14.99 US / $17.25 CANADA / £10.99 UK
  • Age Rating: No age rating provided More about content ratings.
  • Manga Genres:
  • US Publication Date: September 2007
    Japan Publication Date: 2001 - 2002
  • Book Description: 528 pages, black and white illustrations

Guide Review - With The Light Volume 1

Just looking at With The Light Volume 1, you know you're not picking up your everyday manga graphic novel. This double-sized graphic novel (500+ pages) is just as different on the inside.

With The Light is about Sachiko, a young mother and her struggles to understand autism and her autistic son Hikaru. Volume 1 takes us from Hikaru's birth to his early years in preschool and elementary school. As the years go by, Sachiko deals with her own confusion, fears and feelings of failure, as friends, strangers, family and even her husband misunderstand, judge and blame her for Hikaru's behavior.

Fortunately, with support from her doctors, social workers and Hikaru's teachers, Sachiko comes to understand her child's special needs. Every challenge and every tiny triumph become another opportunity to learn more about Hikaru's world and chase away the clouds of myths and misconceptions about autism.

While not drawn from Tobe-sensei's own experiences, With The Light is based on numerous interviews with parents of autistic children. As a result, it includes many incidents that ring true as actual events. The downside to this approach is that With The Light is a patched-together composite of many families' experiences strung together in a soapy melodrama, kind of like a Lifetime TV movie.

The other weak spots? The supporting characters are simple, two-dimensional caricatures separated into two camps: good or bad, supportive or hurtful. As a josei manga title about parenting, it's probably not very interesting to younger readers wanting, expecting shonen or shojo manga fare.

That said, there's lots to like about With The Light: The artwork is soft and feminine and tells the story of this young family's struggles with sensitivity. It's a welcome addition to the manga landscape; a book that has great potential to reach new audiences.

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Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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