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Spring Rain: A Graphic Memoir of Love, Madness, and Revolutions

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An intimate graphic memoir by a New York Times-bestselling writer about his semester abroad in Beirut as he grows close to a crowd of mostly LGBTQ students, and suffers a mental breakdown while the city erupts into revolution. An evocative memoir --Joe Sacco In 2005 Andy Warner travelled to Lebanon to study literature in Beirut, one of the world's most cosmopolitan and stori An intimate graphic memoir by a New York Times-bestselling writer about his semester abroad in Beirut as he grows close to a crowd of mostly LGBTQ students, and suffers a mental breakdown while the city erupts into revolution. An evocative memoir --Joe Sacco In 2005 Andy Warner travelled to Lebanon to study literature in Beirut, one of the world's most cosmopolitan and storied cities. Twenty-one years old and recently broken up from his girlfriend, Warner feels his life is both intense and directionless. Immersing himself in the vibrant and diverse city, he quickly befriends a group of LGBT students, many of whom are ex-pats straddling different cultures and embracing the freedoms of the multicultural city. Warner and his friends party, do drugs, and hook up, even as violence breaks out in the city--the scars of a fifteen-year civil war reopening with a series of political assassinations and bombings. As the city descends into chaos and violence, Warner feels his grasp on reality slowly begin to slip as he confronts traumas in his past and anxiety over his future. Illustrated in beautiful and intricate detail, Spring Rain is an absorbing and poignant graphic memoir 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.


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An intimate graphic memoir by a New York Times-bestselling writer about his semester abroad in Beirut as he grows close to a crowd of mostly LGBTQ students, and suffers a mental breakdown while the city erupts into revolution. An evocative memoir --Joe Sacco In 2005 Andy Warner travelled to Lebanon to study literature in Beirut, one of the world's most cosmopolitan and stori An intimate graphic memoir by a New York Times-bestselling writer about his semester abroad in Beirut as he grows close to a crowd of mostly LGBTQ students, and suffers a mental breakdown while the city erupts into revolution. An evocative memoir --Joe Sacco In 2005 Andy Warner travelled to Lebanon to study literature in Beirut, one of the world's most cosmopolitan and storied cities. Twenty-one years old and recently broken up from his girlfriend, Warner feels his life is both intense and directionless. Immersing himself in the vibrant and diverse city, he quickly befriends a group of LGBT students, many of whom are ex-pats straddling different cultures and embracing the freedoms of the multicultural city. Warner and his friends party, do drugs, and hook up, even as violence breaks out in the city--the scars of a fifteen-year civil war reopening with a series of political assassinations and bombings. As the city descends into chaos and violence, Warner feels his grasp on reality slowly begin to slip as he confronts traumas in his past and anxiety over his future. Illustrated in beautiful and intricate detail, Spring Rain is an absorbing and poignant graphic memoir 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.

30 review for Spring Rain: A Graphic Memoir of Love, Madness, and Revolutions

  1. 5 out of 5

    Rod Brown

    An American college student has a mental health crisis against the backdrop of political unrest and turmoil in Lebanon in 2005. There is much drug abuse, many regretful sexual hook-ups, and a truckload of navel gazing. And, oh yeah, people are dying in the background, which is like, y'know, a real buzzkill. Ugly American tourism and memoir writing at its most self-involved. An American college student has a mental health crisis against the backdrop of political unrest and turmoil in Lebanon in 2005. There is much drug abuse, many regretful sexual hook-ups, and a truckload of navel gazing. And, oh yeah, people are dying in the background, which is like, y'know, a real buzzkill. Ugly American tourism and memoir writing at its most self-involved.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Bandit

    The title just about covers the contents, though for me the memoir aspect of this book was the least appealing one. I don’t really do memoirs, nor do I believe people in their 20s have memoir worthy lives to talk about…well, mostly, anyway. No, in this instance, the appeal is purely geographical. The recently read excellent book about Israel rekindled my interest in the region and this takes places in Israel’s immediate neighbor and occasional foe to the north. The story covers the author’s sem The title just about covers the contents, though for me the memoir aspect of this book was the least appealing one. I don’t really do memoirs, nor do I believe people in their 20s have memoir worthy lives to talk about…well, mostly, anyway. No, in this instance, the appeal is purely geographical. The recently read excellent book about Israel rekindled my interest in the region and this takes places in Israel’s immediate neighbor and occasional foe to the north. The story covers the author’s semester abroad as a 21 year old and the briefly a subsequent return years later. It has a lot of the stereotypical stranger abroad thing going for it, alienation, culture adjustment, etc. And because it’s essentially a bunch of kids, albeit from all over, there’s plenty of drinking, getting high, partying and sex. With occasional traveling and introspection thrown in. And because it is set during a turbulent time for the country and the region, this is also a very compelling then and there witness account of the shifting political dynamics. The latter aspect was by far the most interesting for me, putting a personal perspective on the impersonal data such as facts, death tolls, etc. And the author did a good job with that, really conveying the sudden danger of the militarized conflict juxtaposed with the eternal beauty of the city once known as the Paris of the Middle East. To be fair, the author did a fine job with the rest of the novel too, it was just (for me) a lot less interesting. All that indulgent partying and uncertainty of youth, all the sleeping around, the fraught mental state, etc. It was honest (as far as one can known from a memoir), but kind of like a second fiddle to the main act. The art was very good, black and white isn’t normally my favorite, but it worked really well here and the drawings of all but people were absolutely stunning in detail and complexity. Positively travelogue in quality. So all in all, an interesting read. Fairly quick too. Read it for the politics not for the memoir. Or both. Or either or. Whatever works for you. Whatever gets more people educated and enlightened about the infinitely complex politics of the Middle East is worth a read.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Salamanderinspace

    A fast read. You know a comic has fantastic layout and design when you can burn through it really quickly. I never felt lost or confused; the images were all clear and evocative. The story is really rich but easy to read...it blends the personal with the historical. I feel like there aren't enough accounts of this type of psychosis in media, and certainly never enough memoirs of the middle east in this time period. I feel enriched for having read this. A fast read. You know a comic has fantastic layout and design when you can burn through it really quickly. I never felt lost or confused; the images were all clear and evocative. The story is really rich but easy to read...it blends the personal with the historical. I feel like there aren't enough accounts of this type of psychosis in media, and certainly never enough memoirs of the middle east in this time period. I feel enriched for having read this.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Dakota Morgan

    The subtitle to Spring Rain is fairly accurate, though Andy Warner certainly could have added "and excessive drug use" at the end as some forewarning. Every other scene, Warner claims to be going out of his mind right before he takes a big hit of hash or pops a Vicodin or snorts some home-cooked speed. Yeah, sure, I wonder why you're having a mental breakdown, buddy? Despite that nonsense, Spring Rain is an excellent read. Warner's art is some of my favorite in the graphic non-fiction realm - jus The subtitle to Spring Rain is fairly accurate, though Andy Warner certainly could have added "and excessive drug use" at the end as some forewarning. Every other scene, Warner claims to be going out of his mind right before he takes a big hit of hash or pops a Vicodin or snorts some home-cooked speed. Yeah, sure, I wonder why you're having a mental breakdown, buddy? Despite that nonsense, Spring Rain is an excellent read. Warner's art is some of my favorite in the graphic non-fiction realm - just the right level of detail to perfectly evoke the setting with just enough cartoonishness to keep the eyes from glazing over. The story of Warner's semester abroad in Lebanon churns along at top speed, with Warner slowly descending into drug-fueled madness amidst the numerous Middle Eastern revolutionary forces. It's a splendid and fascinating travelogue as well as a curious glimpse into a troubled mind. I could barely tear myself away from the read, though I might have asked for a tad more backstory, both in terms of Lebanese history and Warner's life.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kris McCracken

    Interesting at some points, but I really am well past the days in which spending time with depressed people looking for solutions in drugs and one-night-stands. Lebanon or otherwise!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ashley Holstrom

    There’s a lot going on here — unrest in the Middle East while our narrator is studying abroad, doing a lot of drugs, and having a mental breakdown of sorts. I’m not sure what we’re supposed to take away from it. It never goes too deeply into any of the deep ideas presented. Meh. The art is stunning, though.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Carin

    When I was in college, I did not do study abroad. I am dreadful at foreign languages, I'd already spent some time abroad with my family as as tween, and I liked my college and wasn't sure why part of the point was to leave it. Yet most people did. Including Andy, who in 2005 went to Lebanon to study abroad. That's a fascinating decision that he kind of glosses over (yes, he makes a good case for Lebanon being a beautiful and interesting country but only after he's there--I'd like to have known m When I was in college, I did not do study abroad. I am dreadful at foreign languages, I'd already spent some time abroad with my family as as tween, and I liked my college and wasn't sure why part of the point was to leave it. Yet most people did. Including Andy, who in 2005 went to Lebanon to study abroad. That's a fascinating decision that he kind of glosses over (yes, he makes a good case for Lebanon being a beautiful and interesting country but only after he's there--I'd like to have known more about why he chose to go to a country that's been war-torn for decades, after Sept. 11.) But the book pretty much starts with his arrival. He meets people, he makes friends, he gets an apartment, he goes to clubs, he misses his ex-girlfriend, he starts to drawn cartoons again and most of all, he goes a little insane. Like he sometimes hallucinates, he's paranoid, and he has disturbing and realistic dreams. I'm glad that all seemed to be a one-time thing that resolved itself after he came back to the United States, but I also wish he'd explained that further--did he ever have any medical testing? Or even psychological? What would cause a person to temporarily go somewhat crazy for a few months, but then fully recover and never have another incident. And yet, I don't get the book I wish for, I get the book he has written (and drawn). To see even a low level of a break with reality from the inside, from someone who's come out the other side, is truly a gift. To have someone who is now sane, be able to explain it in a way we can understand, gives a level of empathy most of us who've never struggled with mental health in that way, insight. Now, that's not the only thing going on while Andy's there. There's a political assassination and unrest, Andy has his first sexual experience with a man, and in the end he decides the breakup with his girlfriend was a mistake (they're still together today and have kids). This book is incredibly open and raw, and reads like he doesn't even know the word artifice. It's one of the most honest and vulnerable memoirs I've ever read.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jason Sacks

    I almost always enjoy graphic novels which take me to another place in the world. There's a power to the way different places, different languages and different experiences are conveyed in comic form versus any other artform. I think it has something to do with the idea that subjective experiences are shown through an objective-seeming medium. Andy Warner's Spring Rain takes place in Lebanon circa 2004, and his experiences as a confused, drug-addled college student in Lebanon give this book a lot I almost always enjoy graphic novels which take me to another place in the world. There's a power to the way different places, different languages and different experiences are conveyed in comic form versus any other artform. I think it has something to do with the idea that subjective experiences are shown through an objective-seeming medium. Andy Warner's Spring Rain takes place in Lebanon circa 2004, and his experiences as a confused, drug-addled college student in Lebanon give this book a lot of its power. Though Warner traveled a lot during his childhood due to academic oriented parents, none of his experiences could really prepare him for the complicated turmoil he experiences in Lebanon. In his presentation of the political events of that time, Warner does a nice job of bringing them alive. Through him, we see the confusion, excitement and fear of a country in the middle of a turbulent time, in which nearly nobody could anticipate what will happen. I enjoyed those aspects of the book a lot. Unfortunately, as Warner acknowledges, the parts about his personal life are more frustrating. Few of us have a perfect grasp on our identity when we're in college, and we see that here, as Warner portrays himself as kind of a self-centered, arrogant, drug-obsessed jerk. It's hard to want to spend time with someone presented as so unlikable, even as we sympathize with his struggles about his sexuality, his drug addictions and his brief experiences with mental illness. This is a good book, worth reading, and a good subjective portrait of an area of the world most American don't know anything about. I guess I'd rather have the writer be honest about his shortcomings than lie to readers in his memoir, but that honesty is kind of a drag sometimes in this book.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    Firstly, I commend this author for his courageous vulnerability in authoring this autobiographical piece. The moments where we delved into his instability, fear, shame, and depression were beautifully written and exceptionally drawn. While I appreciated the glimpse into conflict-ridden Beirut, those were unfortunately the times I was removed from the book. I was significantly more interested in the authors relationships, emotions, and travel stories. The conflict in Beirut did provide a strong m Firstly, I commend this author for his courageous vulnerability in authoring this autobiographical piece. The moments where we delved into his instability, fear, shame, and depression were beautifully written and exceptionally drawn. While I appreciated the glimpse into conflict-ridden Beirut, those were unfortunately the times I was removed from the book. I was significantly more interested in the authors relationships, emotions, and travel stories. The conflict in Beirut did provide a strong mirror and landscape for the author’s mental state, I just personally didn’t feel like it helped the story along smoothly.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Megan Mann

    This was truly a wild story. Lebanon seems like a place teeming with culture while dealing with the constant threat of war; especially with Israel and Syria on either side. In 2005, Andy moved to Beirut for a semester abroad to study Lebanese literature. During his time there, he had deep mental and emotional struggles while exploring sexuality, drugs and who he is as a person. While there, he saw as Rafik Hariri’s motorcade was blown up, protests from pro- and anti-Syrian sides, politicians in This was truly a wild story. Lebanon seems like a place teeming with culture while dealing with the constant threat of war; especially with Israel and Syria on either side. In 2005, Andy moved to Beirut for a semester abroad to study Lebanese literature. During his time there, he had deep mental and emotional struggles while exploring sexuality, drugs and who he is as a person. While there, he saw as Rafik Hariri’s motorcade was blown up, protests from pro- and anti-Syrian sides, politicians in and out and constant bombings. It was a very intense story that is hard to believe is true. But it was well written and beautifully drawn. Definitely made me want to go to Beirut.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne

    First off, I loved the art which goes a long way towards telling this story and evoking the time and place (Beirut, 2005). Andy is a foreign exchange student and reveling in sowing oats in a foreign, cosmopolitan city. He is alternately depressed (missing his girlfriend), feeling like he is losing his mind (coupled with excessive drug use) and partying hard with only a cursory understanding of the political conflict surrounding his chosen city. The occasional explosions serve as punctuation for First off, I loved the art which goes a long way towards telling this story and evoking the time and place (Beirut, 2005). Andy is a foreign exchange student and reveling in sowing oats in a foreign, cosmopolitan city. He is alternately depressed (missing his girlfriend), feeling like he is losing his mind (coupled with excessive drug use) and partying hard with only a cursory understanding of the political conflict surrounding his chosen city. The occasional explosions serve as punctuation for the city, his awareness and his mental state. It mostly reads as a slice of life, albeit, an interesting one.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Mickey Bits

    Hey, whaddya know. It's a Western perspective on experiences in an Arab country without going totally anti-Israel. This look back on the author's time in Beirut, Lebanon is quite interesting. The author highlights aspects of the city a typical outsider (ie that came of age in the 80s and later) wouldn't know about or even know exists at all in Lebanon such as a LGBT community, drugs, and tourism. There's a bit of confessional virtue-signaling but that's ok. I enjoyed it and you probably will too Hey, whaddya know. It's a Western perspective on experiences in an Arab country without going totally anti-Israel. This look back on the author's time in Beirut, Lebanon is quite interesting. The author highlights aspects of the city a typical outsider (ie that came of age in the 80s and later) wouldn't know about or even know exists at all in Lebanon such as a LGBT community, drugs, and tourism. There's a bit of confessional virtue-signaling but that's ok. I enjoyed it and you probably will too. This was the first book I read in 2021.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kayson Fakhar

    An interesting book that as written in the title, is revolving around relationships, mental health, and the political instability of Lebanon. It took about two hours to get through it and it's pretty immersive. I recommend reading it while commuting since it doesn't need your full attention and you won't forget what's what if you pause frequently. It might sound weird but the time I need to invest to reach a place that I can close the book and reopen is a big issue for me, some books need at lea An interesting book that as written in the title, is revolving around relationships, mental health, and the political instability of Lebanon. It took about two hours to get through it and it's pretty immersive. I recommend reading it while commuting since it doesn't need your full attention and you won't forget what's what if you pause frequently. It might sound weird but the time I need to invest to reach a place that I can close the book and reopen is a big issue for me, some books need at least an hour to reach this point. This book, it's around a couple of minutes.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Wrage

    FYI: I won this book on goodreads.com. I would like to begin by saying that I am not big fan of graphic novels. This one was out of my comfort range. I appreciate the honesty and transparency of the author. The illustrations were striking in black and white. I did learn more about the turmoil in Lebanon, but was prudishly put off by some of the content. Not for me, but I am sure some would fine it appealing.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kristina Aziz

    I received this book from a Goodreads giveaway. It was... interesting in some parts. Mostly it was one big don't do drugs campaign posing as a coming of age story from a man who has long since come of age and should know better. When it comes to men, however they are at the age of 24 (when their brains are fully developed) is how they will be for the rest of their lives (unless they use drugs or alcohol and become worse.) So this was just... One big red flag after another. I received this book from a Goodreads giveaway. It was... interesting in some parts. Mostly it was one big don't do drugs campaign posing as a coming of age story from a man who has long since come of age and should know better. When it comes to men, however they are at the age of 24 (when their brains are fully developed) is how they will be for the rest of their lives (unless they use drugs or alcohol and become worse.) So this was just... One big red flag after another.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    Technically, this book was fine - the drawing style was a little bland but the nightmares were well and creepily drawn. I didn’t find the story very interesting- the portrayal of events in Beirut was illustrative but never felt (to me) connected to the author’s experience. Additionally, the author is fairly self aware of how his experiences seem in the face of such important events, but it didn’t save the book for me.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Peter Hollo

    4.5 Stars. I've loved Andy Warner's comics since early issues of Irene and I've got a bunch of his minicomics. So it was a lovely surprise to find this autobiographical comic just out this week. It fleshes out his time as a student in Beirut, with some fascinating history of the city and region, and his own story is told with revealing and vulnerable humanity. Beautiful work. 4.5 Stars. I've loved Andy Warner's comics since early issues of Irene and I've got a bunch of his minicomics. So it was a lovely surprise to find this autobiographical comic just out this week. It fleshes out his time as a student in Beirut, with some fascinating history of the city and region, and his own story is told with revealing and vulnerable humanity. Beautiful work.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Andy

    A Masterpiece. I read this in one sitting. The research, the art, the vulnerable and personal stories about mental health experiences of a young man, its perfect. I sincerely believe it is these types of work that will help young men admit the feelings that have and pursue a search for healthy, honest connections instead of turning to violence.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lily

    A very particular memoir highlighting a study-abroad endeavor in Beirut in a time of civil unrest and turmoil, while the narrator is also exploring his sexuality and experiencing some concerning mental health issues. The personal and political mirror each other, and it is an impressively detailed account.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Tina Hu

    A short and personal telling of an exchange student in Beirut during Arab Spring and the effects it had on the international community there. Gave me more perspective on this region of the world and all the conflict that happens and it's never clear who the bad guy is, it's always just opposing sides and America getting involved where they don't need to be. A short and personal telling of an exchange student in Beirut during Arab Spring and the effects it had on the international community there. Gave me more perspective on this region of the world and all the conflict that happens and it's never clear who the bad guy is, it's always just opposing sides and America getting involved where they don't need to be.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Nate

    Strangely inspiring. The author does things so differently than I would have and that makes for an interesting read. It was fascinating to read that this book was his third attempt at telling the story, and that he still can’t really know how accurate it is. A copy of a copy of a copy.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Angela

    This book was full of multidimensional intensity. In the backdrop of a historical moment the author describes and intense moment of mental illness and touch of his own history. The illustrations were impactful and the layering of stories, evocative.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Janet

    This is the only one of Warner’s books that I’ve read. He’s clearly a skilled cartoonist, but I didn’t enjoy reading this. It stumbles between attempting to describe his experience of mental illness, being a jerk of a college student, and mostly ignoring a national crisis in Lebanon.

  24. 5 out of 5

    John

    The artwork is gorgeous. With that said, the story is messy. I honestly don’t know what I’m supposed to have learned from this book (other than parts of Lebanon’s tumultuous history). Maybe that’s all? ✌🏻

  25. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    Book Riot Read Harder Challenge 2020 Task #4: Graphic memoir

  26. 5 out of 5

    Edward Sullivan

    An intimate, emotionally intense memoir in which Warner recounts his mental breakdown in the midst of political revolution while a university student in Beirut.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Fred Baerkircher

    This book paints a vivid picture of a city full of energy and the chaos that accompanies massive political upheaval.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Agibbs1978

    Intense graphic novel memoir!

  29. 4 out of 5

    KDV

    Too intense for me personally.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Miller

    I’m not sure how much love is involved in this tale of life and exploration in 2005 Beirut, but there are definitely revolutions and madness.

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