Warner, Andy. “Spring Rain: A Graphic Memoir of Love, Madness, and Revolutions”, St. Martin’s Griffin, 2020.
A Graphic Memoir
“Spring Rain: A Graphic Memoir of Love, Madness, and Revolutions” is an intimate graphic memoir about author Andy Warner’s semester abroad in Beirut where he grows close to a crowd of mostly LGBTQ students, and suffers a mental breakdown while the city erupts into revolution.
In 2005 Andy Warner travelled to Lebanon to study literature in Beirut. He was then twenty-one years old and had recently broken up from his girlfriend. He felt that his life is both intense and directionless. In Beirut, he became involved with a group of LGBT students, many of whom were ex-pats from different cultures and they were experiencing the freedoms of this multicultural city. He and his friends party, do drugs, and hook up as violence takes place in the city with the remains of Lebanon’s fifteen-year civil war re-emerging with a series of political assassinations and bombings. Beirut becomes chaotic and violent and Warner feels that his grip on reality is slipping away. The traumas in Warner’s past return to him and he senses the anxiety over his future.
This is the story of a young man’s attempt to gain control over his life as well as a portrait of a city and a nation’s violent struggle to define its future. The parallels between Lebanese political unrest and his own mental health struggles become great worries for Warner. Through cartons we see what his collapsing around him reflecting his own psychological state crumbling within. The memoir is both of the city and the man, both of whom are on the brink.
Warner often hallucinates, he’s paranoid, and experiences disturbing and realistic dreams. While I did not understand what caused him to “lose it” for a few monthsI was glad to see him fully recover. I would have liked a bit more background as to how he reached the state that he did.
Amid political assassination and unrest, Andy has his first sexual experience with a man, and this makes him understand that his breakup with his girlfriend was a mistake. This incident and others show us just how vulnerable a person he was and I appreciate the honesty with which he wrote this book.