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Dumb’s protagonist Georgia lives the relatively carefree and ordinary life of a twentysomething in Montreal: working at a café, volunteering at a local bike co-op, and going out on the town with friends. But when a sudden unanticipated throat injury forces her into months of silence, her life is thrown into disarray. Unable to work her customer service job, she must find new income. Conversing with friends becomes complicated and exhausting. And she is forced to give up a hobby she loves — singing! Navigating a world that appears to be closing in on her seems more and more impossible.
Part memoir, part medical cautionary tale, Dumb tells the story of how the book’s author copes with the everyday challenges that come with voicelessness. Webber adroitly uses the comics medium to convey the practical hurdles she faced as well as the fear and dread that accompanied her increasingly lonely journey to regain her life. Her raw cartooning style, occasionally devolving into chaotic scribbles, splotches of ink, and overlapping montages, perfectly captures her frustration and anxiety. But her ordeal ultimately becomes a hopeful story. Throughout, she learns to lean on the support of her close friends, finds self-expression in creating comics, and comes to understand and appreciate how deeply her voice and identity are intertwined.