The Structure of Essex County

     The graphic novel “Essex County” is separated into three different books.  The first book, Tales From the Farm, follows the story of a young boy named Lester.  After Lester’s mother passed away from cancer, he is sent to live on a farm with a relative.  Although Lester never truly connects with this man, he begins to form a close and unique friendship with another man who owns the local convenient store/gas station in the small town.  Together, the two play games and pretend to be super heros.  Also, it is revealed that Lester’s friend, Jimmy, used to play hockey and can somehow easily and effortlessly relate to this young child.  The second book, Ghost Stories, is narrated by Lou Lebeuf, Lester’s great grandfather’s brother and Jimmy’s grandfather’s brother.  At this point in the story, though, Lester does not know that Jimmy is his father.  Lou is obviously a very senile older man and is living in the present, but paints a picture of his life through flash backs and memories.  At times, the story is even a little hard to follow because Lou is clearly not just living in the present.  In fact, it seems that he is better at remembering the past than the present.  His memories are clear and vivid, though.  He reveals much about his life during this book, including have relations with his brother’s wife.  The final book of the graphic novel, The Country Nurse, follows the story of Anne Byrne, as she tries to take care of her son after her husband has passed away and visits Lou Lebeuf regularly.  This book also delves into the life of Anne’s great grandmother, as she deals with losing her husband.

Family Tree

     Even though this graphic novel has three separate books that are about three separate people and are told in different ways, all of the books come together and interrelate.  The first book tells the story of the youngest member of the Lebeuf family and the second book tells the story of the oldest living member of that family.  A lot is learned about the dynamics of Lester and Jimmy’s relationship.  He eludes to the fact that he knew his mother, but does not reveal the relationship between the family.  The second book solidifies the fact that they are related.  Also, the third book tells the passing away of Lou and even shows a family tree of the both families.  This makes all of the intricate relationships much easier to understand.  Jimmy never admits to being Lester’s father; however, that conclusion can be drawn from other things that are said.  But, the family tree shows the relationship.
     Overall, “Essex County” is set up in a very strange and unusual way.  The entire novel has to be read to fully understand the complexity of the story.  Although the books discuss different people, all the people are related and these relationships are eventually demonstrated as the stories go on.  I believe that the book was set up this way to keep readers wondering and guessing.  The author could have easily just set up the novel revealing all of the information in the correct order.  However, I feel that the story would not have been as entertaining or rewarding to read.  For example, I knew Lester and Jimmy had to have a deeper connection than just friends.  Although Jimmy did not want to admit it,  clues were revealed.  The story almost was unraveled like a mystery.  Additionally, I think that showing the family tree with pictures was incredibly helpful and necessary to fully understand the graphic novel.  Any questions readers had would be answered after studying this page.    

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