Dare to Disappoint: Growing Up in Turkey

This graphic novel (200 pages) was published in November of 2015 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. The book takes you to 1980s and '90s Istanbul. David read Dare to Disappoint and loved it; it wouldn't be on our site if he didn't recommend it.

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Dare to Disappoint

Growing Up in Turkey

Özge Samancı

This book is such a good read, you’ll wish every culture offerred a funny, touching, coming-of-age autobiographical comic to show you around its home.

This is the story of Özge Samancı and her childhood in Izmir, Turkey, during the 1980s and ’90s. Energetic and curious, she was eager to learn, had a passion for Jaques Cousteau, played the mandolin — and, as many of us do, struggled with who to be in the face of who everyone around her wanted her to be.

Because aside from the usual pressures of growing up, Özge came of age in a politically polarized, militaristic, conservative, economically unstable country.

In one telling scene, her class is learning about Atatürk, the leader who revolutionized Turkey in the 1920s. The kids are required to recite an oath every day that praises Atatürk in which they vow ‘to love my country more than I love myself.’ There’s marching in gym class and standing at attention when a teacher enters the room.

The author does a bang-up job managing the tone, so there’s ongoing tension, but there’s also hope.

As we follow Özge to high school and college, we experience the Turkish culture — its rewards and limitations — as Özge does. The neat trick of this graphic novel is that you think you’re reading an autobio comic, but what’s really happening is a conversation between cultures. When Özge says she had to take a daily pledge, you remember your own school days rituals. And when she admits her family watched the TV show Dallas at night, you might recall that yous did, too.

This is a moving, insightful, charming book about life in Turkey. At the risk of spoiling the ending: Özge Samancı is currently a media professor at Northwestern University and a working artist.

illustration from the graphic novel dare to disappoint

illustration from the graphic novel dare to disappoint

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