A Life Turned Upside Down: My Dad’s an Alcoholic by Mariko Kikuchi

Thank you to the Edelweiss for the review copy.

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Mariko Kikuchi tells the painful story of her father’s alcoholism and her own journey through guilt to understanding her father’s illness. She rejects the common belief that family members can and should be forgiven for anything they do, no matter how much harm they cause. This powerful, self-contained autobiographical manga began as a web series that went viral, and inspired a critically acclaimed 2019 film in Japan.

Review: This is a manga memoir from Mariko Kikuchi and focuses on her life with her alcoholic father. This perspective means that you don’t know why her father drank, or why her mother did what she did. It is likely that Mariko Kikuchi doesn’t know either, and these emotions of confusion, pain and anger is present throughout the book. Why did her life have to be like this?

I thought that the author conveyed showed these well. Not just her anger but also her guilt. How society influences perception, especially how it enables her father. I think I would have enjoyed this even more if readers could have had a bigger insight into her younger sister’s views.

A Life Turned Upside Down is relatively short given how much it covers. So occasionally felt a little like the reader was only seeing the surface level. However, this is a memoir so the narrative will be different from fiction. The emotions of this story are portrayed excellently.

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