(w/a) Anne Simon
Humans are complicated. That’s the truth. Every single person on this planet experiences emotions, in all their various intonations, degrees, and colors. Some embrace their emotions, while others shun them. Generally speaking, a person’s overall growth depends on their frequency of interaction with others on a daily basis. Thus, due to the fact that human behavior is wholly unpredictable at times, it is not surprising that human relationships can also be complicated and difficult to navigate. Writer and artist Anne Simon does an excellent job of portraying the frailty of human relationships in her new graphic novel The Song of Aglaia by showcasing just how truly raw and vulnerable the broad spectrum of human emotion can truly be. She explores and exposes universal truths, one at a time, and offers the reader hope with a dash of brutal honesty.
As a storyteller, Simon is capable of captivating the reader’s full attention quickly and gracefully. The story’s narrative is smooth, and this fluidity appropriately reflects how quickly emotions can transform along with the passage of time and life experience. There are several moments where the reader will find themselves relating to all of the different characters in the story, as well as comparing his own memories and experiences with the multitude of emotions being expressed by the story’s protagonist. This will happen whether he wants to admit it or not. Obviously, one will always distance himself from what he perceives as a negative trait or emotion. The truth of the matter is that regardless of how ugly the truth may be, one should muster the courage to face it.
Therein lies the rub. A person is not always willing to do the work to face the truth in his (or her) life. As a character, Aglaia struggles with this as well. She is resilient, strong, passionate, vulnerable, stubborn, and fragile. She is as kind as she is cruel. She bends and challenges social norms. And the reader will continue to follow her story, for no other reason than the fact that she represents an everywoman of sorts. Life has a way of shaping a person in specific ways, but is up to the person to figure out how to make the most of the experience in the end.
The story unfolds with diverse scenery. The changing landscape further represents not only the passage of time but also a coming of age story, where the experience of Aglaia’s adulthood is meant to evoke different emotions upon re-reading the story. Simon’s anthropomorphic characters do an excellent job of conveying human emotion with spot-on accuracy. Each major character shares his or her true moral compass and his or her set of values, whether it is protected or compromised. While the artwork appears minimalistic and surreal, each panel’s raw emotion keeps encouraging the reader to continue reading the story towards its startling conclusion.
Overall, The Song of Aglaia is a timeless tale, filled with a witty, feminist agenda that openly showcases the protagonist’s triumphs and failures. Aglaia’s story highlights the universal truth that there are many people who lose sight of their values when dealing with everyday life, simply because they let their emotions take over. There is wisdom in trying to control these emotions, however, sometimes it’s not always possible. This story is definitely a reminder that sometimes it is okay to take a moment to think before moving on to the next chapter in life. While it is true that the future has not been written yet, Aglaia’s experience reminds us that you certainly reap what you sow.