House, The, By Paco Roca, 134 pgs.

There’s a saying: “If these walls could talk…” and the walls of the house in Paco Rosa’s The House do. For three adult siblings returning to the family summer home in the wake of their father’s death, the walls whisper stories of times past… and moments they would like to forget.

The graphic novel opens with a poignant series of twelve panels, in muted tones and without dialogue, of patriarch Antonio leaving the house. As he pulls on his jacket and approaches the door, he ominously experiences a dizzy spell. Clutching the doorjamb, he steadies himself, then leaves. This is the last time the reader sees Antonio alive. The ensuing stretch of unpopulated panels evokes the heavy emptiness left by his passing and an absence that his adult children attempt to fill with memories of him.

One by one, Antonio’s children return to the house to get it ready to sell. First is middle child, José, the writer; then eldest child, Vincente; and last youngest child, Carla. Each shares memories of their father, bringing him back to life through daydreams and flashbacks. Through these flashbacks, the reader sees Antonio, from a young man to his final days. Antonio’s neighbor and best friend, Manolo, has his own stories about their father that cause the children to reassess who their father truly was.

In The House, Rosa knowingly illuminates sibling relationships and rivalries, perceived slights and other great misconceptions that can cause rifts, and the welcome calm that comes with long-overdue resolution. As an older sibling, I recognized many of the dynamics that wonderfully play out in this graphic novel, and I caught myself frequently laughing at the familiarity. Also, as the daughter of a father in his senior years, I thought of my own perceptions of him as I turned page after page. The House nurtures introspection.

A deeply moving graphic novel that will have readers reflect on their own relationships with family, The House may inspire reconnections with loved ones or at least spur rumination on what is truly important. –Gina Murrell (Fantagraphic Books,