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The Shiniest Jewel: A Family Love Story    by Marian Henley order for
Shiniest Jewel
by Marian Henley
Order:  USA  Can
Springboard Press, 2008 (2008)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

The Shiniest Jewel: A Family Love Story is comic artist Marian Henley's memoir of her ordeal of trying to adopt a baby from Russia while dealing with her father's declining health.

The adoption process and her father's slow trek towards death cause Henley to reexamine her current situation with her long-time, younger boyfriend, and to question why she is desiring a child at the age of forty-nine. The story is a touching, heartwarming one, with plenty of humor added through Henley's illustrations.

While the story is sweet, it is the artwork that makes The Shiniest Jewel. Henley's style is simplistic but accurate. However, she takes on a very literal style with some tongue-in-cheek panels that bring a smile to the reader's face. My favorite panel is the one on the top of page 105 where Henley is being chewed out by the Regional Director of Education in Russian. The director is yelling with such force that she is almost blowing Henley away, and what is coming out of her mouth seems more like some weird Russian algebra than anything coherent. This is just an example of how Henley masterfully adds humor into her memoir while keeping the emotions real and the drawings simple.

The Shiniest Jewel is a graphic novel that will touch your heart in ways that a traditional memoir could not.

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