Nicole J. Georges Searches for Truth in Calling Dr. Laura: A Graphic Memoir

Calling Dr. Laura: A Graphic Memoir by Nicole J. Georges (2013)callingdrlaura

Review by Stacia Oparowski, Library Assistant.

When her friend takes her on a surprise visit to a psychic, Nicole Georges receives a prediction that changes everything she thought she knew about her life. The psychic tells her that the man she knew as her father was actually not her “real” father, and perhaps her “real” father is still alive waiting to be found. At that moment, everything clicks into place with Nicole. She had never really felt 100% blood-related to her two older sisters, since they both looked alike and exactly like their mother. Nicole, on the other hand, looked nothing like them or her mother. Having a different father than her sisters seemed like a distinct possibility. So, the search begins.

Unfortunately, just asking her mother who her real father is isn’t an option. Nicole doesn’t ask her mother things, and certainly doesn’t tell her things. Especially important things. Though she has been out for years about her sexuality in her community, her mother still doesn’t know she is gay nor that she is living with her girlfriend, Radar.nicole

Beneath the family drama is another conflict: Radar isn’t happy about being kept a secret from her mother. She doesn’t understand why Nicole won’t set the record straight. Eventually things grow distant between them, as Nicole holds her emotions inside herself. Holding things inside is routine for her.

In an interwoven series of flashbacks to her childhood, Nicole lets us in on her hidden personal memories. Drawn in a simpler style than the rest of the novel, these bits are where we truly begin to understand why Nicole is the way she is. As a child, she held in more than emotions. She held in her bowels, which became something she had to fight with for years later as she developed a condition known as Encopresis.

Eventually, Nicole confronts her sister about the identity of her real father. Her sister tells her another lie told to her by their mother that Nicole’s real father was a dangerous convict.  At least this gives Nicole the name of her father. This leads her to call him on the phone. She doesn’t reach him, but she does reach his son, her half-brother. They begin a correspondence that lasts. She discovers that her real father had actually died too, but he was just a normal guy. He wasn’t a convict, or a mean person. This leads her to finally confront her mother.

The memoir really isn’t about her search for her father, or her relationship with her girlfriend, or her sexuality, or her bowels. It isn’t about Dr. Laura, who plays an incredibly small part in the book but acts as a piece of connective tissue in the story of Nicole’s relationship with her mother. The ending wasn’t as complete as I had hoped, but it was more real that way. It was true. Nicole and her mother come to understand one another, and love each other in a way that they hadn’t been able to before. Nicole’s search for a father had been a search for her mother all along.turnipmom

Told through black and white ink drawings, Georges manages to color the novel with her experiences, with her story. Miss Georges is a skilled graphic novelist who has published a zine called Invincible SummerShe lives in Portland, Oregon with her dog. This is her first full-length graphic novel.

s.o. 02.27.14

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