About this book
This extraordinary graphic novel is a powerful denunciation of sexual violence against women. As seen through the eyes of a twelve-year-old girl named Una, it takes place in northern England in 1977, as the Yorkshire Ripper, a serial killer of prostitutes, is on the loose and creating panic among the townspeople. As the police struggle in their clumsy attempts to find the killer, and the headlines in the local paper become more urgent, a once self-confident Una teaches herself to "lower her gaze" in order to deflect attention from boys.
After she is "slut-shamed" at school for having birth control pills, Una herself is the subject of violent acts for which she comes to blame herself. But as the police finally catch up with and identify the killer, Una grapples with the patterns of behaviour that led her to believe she was to blame.
Becoming Unbecoming combines various styles, press clippings, photo-based illustrations, and splashes of colour to convey young Una's sense of confusion and rage, as well as sobering statistics on sexual violence against women. The book is a no-holds-barred indictment of sexual violence against women and the shame and blame of its victims that also celebrates the empowerment of those able to gain control over their selves and their bodies.
A graphic manifesto for female empowerment and a punch to the gut of predatory males ... A powerfully disturbing graphic narrative from an author with a lot to say and plenty of creative chops to say it provocatively. Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
The first line of dialogue is written on a cloud: 'I am Una.' That simple declaration begins a searing indictment of sexual violence … As a preteen, Una suffered not only sexual abuse but also blistering shame, which made her believe she was damaged. But Una survived, and her book is a roar on behalf of women all over the world. Oprah.com
("Best Memoir of 2016")
Una's personal experience is less the center of this story than the springboard for an extended examination of what she calls 'the four horsemen of gender violence -- shame, isolation, disbelief, ridicule.' New York Times
Among the most powerful books published on misogyny, sexual assault and survival in recent years ... Becoming Unbecoming
reads with a visceral, gut-wrenching power that cannot be ignored. Popmatters.com
In Una's simple, spare text and artwork, we get a story about learning how to take ownership over your memories, however painful they might be, and how to gain power by putting brutality into a larger social context and calmly calling your fellow travelers to arms. Vulture.com
Its pages are overflowing with raw emotion, channeling the cartoonist’s immense pain and frustration over the misogyny and violence women face on a regular basis … Becoming Unbecoming
feels especially timely at the tail-end of a U.S. election year where misogyny has run rampant. The A.V. Club
Brilliant, revealing and brave in a way that just may help other women. Mental Floss
A feminist call to arms ... A graphic memoir on sexual violence against women that everyone should read. Bustle.com
An incredibly powerful new graphic novel … the illustrations are beautiful and the words are a powerful demand listen to women’s voices. ELLE UK
Una's cry is heartfelt and often remarkable in its description and documentation. World Literature Today