The Saturday Reading List: Take It As a Compliment

Take It as a Compliment by Maria Stoian


  • Publication Date: November 21, 2015
  • Graphic novel, comic, real stories, sexual harassment
  • 4/5
  • Warning: Serious and mature topics and themes. Understandably not a happy read but an important one.

From Amazon:

“I was fifteen.”
“I never saw him again.”
“They chanted after me, ‘Oscar the Grouch, Oscar the Grouch.”

Bringing together the voices of males and females of all ages, the stories in this collective graphic memoir reflect real life experiences of sexual abuse, violence and harassment.

Each experience is brought to life by Maria Stoian’s exceptional artwork. Her unique and varied styles powerfully reflect the tone and mood of the different stories and in just a few pages express the complex emotions felt by victims of sexual abuse.

Covering acts such as sexual violence, public sexual harassment, domestic abuse and child abuse, this is a reminder for survivors that they are not alone and a call for all of us to take action. The stories clearly show that assault of any type is not an honour bestowed on anyone. It is not a compliment.

Zo’s Review:

“Take It as a Compliment”  doesn’t hold back any punches. From the first few pages you know that the stories shared are not happy ones. They are stories of hurt, pain, and shame. They are real stories of real survivors of sexual abuse, harassment, and violence.

I really appreciated that Maria Stoian had a variety of stories from both women and men. I feel that many times we think of women or children as the only victims of these types of crimes and occurrences but that’s far from the truth so I liked that there were stories told from a male perspective that didn’t have a filter of gender stereotypes.

This can happen to anyone.

Speaking of anyone, though I really applaud Stoian for the diversity of the people she drew in terms of age, race, sexuality, etc., I did notice that there didn’t seem to be any apparent representation of any transgender people. I’m hoping it’s just because Stoian felt that an illustration of a transgender person should look no differently from a cisgender person because honestly, even though some of the stories may have been illustrated in a certain way – with the exception of a few stories – there’s not always any indications of whether a story’s narrator identifies as a certain identity. So…yeah, I’m hoping it was more of a “It shouldn’t matter how/who I draw, this can happen to anyone” type of thought instead of just leaving out a group of people who are equally, if not more at risk of sexual violence.

But I digress.

Maria Stoian has some obvious talent as an illustrator and I would love to see more work from her. The surreal-ness of the illustrations went really well to project uneasiness and even disbelief. Each panel had me hoping that the next picture would be the person waking up and realizing it was a dream or someone busting in and knocking the abuser out. With each set of illustrations paired with a narration, there was a certain rawness about it that pulled you in.

Overall, Take It as a Compliment  takes the stories of real people and put it through a visual medium that still maintains the seriousness of the narrator’s story while also  intentionally making the reader uncomfortable with its illustrated creativity and surrealism that match up perfectly with the stories of these survivors.


Taken from the “Take It as a Compliment”  official tumblr page:

I received a copy of this book from the NetGalley and the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

What do you all think? Have you read Take It as a Compliment already? Have any other book suggestions that I should add to my Saturday Reading List? Leave your thoughts behind in the comments. Just be respectful please.




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