Mis(h)adra by Iasmin Omar Ata

Mis(h)adra

An Arab-American college student struggles to live with epilepsy in this starkly colored and deeply-cutting graphic novel.Isaac wants nothing more than to be a functional college student—but managing his epilepsy is an exhausting battle to survive. He attempts to maintain a balancing act between his seizure triggers and his day-to-day schedule, but he finds that nothing—no...

Title:Mis(h)adra
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Mis(h)adra Reviews

  • Shenwei

    This resonated with me a lot more than expected. I don't have epilepsy, I have depression/anxiety, but the depiction of the struggles with chronic illness mirrored my own experiences - the hopelessness, the isolation, the frustrated search for meds that work.

    TWs: abuse/gaslighting from medical professionals, epilepsy, dissociation, suicidal ideation, self-harm

  • Amy Nicole

    This is the story of an Arab-American college student, Isaac, who struggles with living his life with epilepsy which is represented in the story by a chain of knives constantly pointed at him, ready to strike at any moment. Balancing the weight of an unsupportive family, a college courses, disbelieving doctors, and day-to-day responsibilities, Isaac is constantly under stress and feels at the end of his rope. The title, Mis(h)adra, is a play on the Arabic words “misadra,” which means “seizure,”

    This is the story of an Arab-American college student, Isaac, who struggles with living his life with epilepsy which is represented in the story by a chain of knives constantly pointed at him, ready to strike at any moment. Balancing the weight of an unsupportive family, a college courses, disbelieving doctors, and day-to-day responsibilities, Isaac is constantly under stress and feels at the end of his rope. The title, Mis(h)adra, is a play on the Arabic words “misadra,” which means “seizure,” and “mish adra,” which is slang for “I can not.” 

    The art in this was absolutely perfect. I think it honestly may be the best art I’ve seen in a graphic novel ever, and I bumped this book up to 5 stars for that alone. The story pacing was a bit off in some places and the ending didn’t strike as hard as the rest of the story, but the overall message and plot were solid.

    + The color scheme is gorgeous. The pinks, purples, and blues worked well together, and I really like how the shade of color shifted to show different scenarios. (e.g. When Isaac experiences one type of attack, the shades got lighter, but a different type of attack and the shades became very saturated.)

    + The art is really well done. The text becomes part of the story. The angles are fresh and interesting. If Ata needed to show flashbacks or time jumps or relay the

    + Great commentary on mental health as well as invisible illness.

    Triggers: detailed suicidal thoughts, condescending doctors, some graphic medical situations

  • Penny

    Not sure how to rate this, the art is good but the story is not, I felt that an essay might have worked better.

  • Chelsey

    Colorfully disturbing. The main character's/author's struggles are so painfully tangible, and this is what makes this so compelling.

  • paulie

    misadra - arabic word for seizure

    mishadra - arabic slang for "i can't"

    mis(h)adra - isaac hammoudeh's daily struggle with epilepsy, which affects his sleep, his schooling, his socialising, his core of self.

    aside from 1986's

    (batman/frank miller) when i was a child, this is my first graphic novel that was more of a real story. the illustrations are nicely drawn, combining moments of heavy detailing and abstract animation throughout. muted tones of yellow, orange, pink, and

    misadra - arabic word for seizure

    mishadra - arabic slang for "i can't"

    mis(h)adra - isaac hammoudeh's daily struggle with epilepsy, which affects his sleep, his schooling, his socialising, his core of self.

    aside from 1986's

    (batman/frank miller) when i was a child, this is my first graphic novel that was more of a real story. the illustrations are nicely drawn, combining moments of heavy detailing and abstract animation throughout. muted tones of yellow, orange, pink, and purple backgrounds make up most of the pages, but black pages appear in particular times of agony, be it physical or mental/emotional. author/artist ata depicts seizures as a string of slightly curved daggers, those curves seemingly representing that extra pain and destruction that comes with half a decade of suffering. the threat of flunking out of college, medical bills, missed sleep add to the stress that help produce seizures, creating a (his) world of isolation (both from society and self-inflicted), feeling of never seeing or feeling better days ahead.

    if manic depression and seizures are apples and oranges, at least understand their commonality in both being fruit. with this in mind, i connected closely with a lot of isaac's thoughts and feelings of desperation to feel/be better, in feeling and helping create distance from others (lots of times not knowing who really cares, who to hold onto or who easily declares empty promises, having a languid, loose g

    i

    ), in wanting to give up (to whichever degree at whichever moment), even in moments where you feel a recharge. there is an intimacy between isaac and a female classmate, jo, that seems to flow between the silken threads of romance, being able to relate to one another, and a fast, frank friendship.

    if this is what a graphic novel can be like, i'm interested in expanding my experience with the genre.

    thank you to gallery 13 comics, simon and schuster for this goodreads giveaway.

  • Krystal

    This graphic novel was an illuminating exploration of an Arab American's experience of epilepsy, while navigating graduate studies amid ableism from loved ones and professionals alike.

  • Victoria Schwab

    Read in a single sitting. What an extraordinary graphic novel about a student living--and fighting--with epilepsy. Absolutely loved.

  • Kelley

    So good. Really relatable for me, even though I don't have epilepsy (but I do have narcolepsy with cataplexy).Really enjoyed the unique illustration style and the different palette switches to convey various states of existing.

  • David Schaafsma

    Arab college student Isaac has epilepsy and it is ruining his life in this autobiographical fiction by Ata, who also has epilepsy. The value of this book would be endless if one were reading this as a young person with epilepsy. It is also valuable for medical and psychiatric professionals in gaining insight into the ways a disease impacts all aspects of life. Isaac isolates himself, doesn't ask for help, does badly in school, becomes suicidal.

    I had to look up the title and found some help, but

    Arab college student Isaac has epilepsy and it is ruining his life in this autobiographical fiction by Ata, who also has epilepsy. The value of this book would be endless if one were reading this as a young person with epilepsy. It is also valuable for medical and psychiatric professionals in gaining insight into the ways a disease impacts all aspects of life. Isaac isolates himself, doesn't ask for help, does badly in school, becomes suicidal.

    I had to look up the title and found some help, but borrow this from Goodreads reviewer Paulie, whose review I read after I had written a quick draft of this review:

    misadra - arabic word for seizure

    mishadra - arabic slang for "i can't"

    mis(h)adra - isaac hammoudeh's daily struggle with epilepsy, which affects his sleep, his schooling, his socialising, his core of self. (thanks, Paulie)

    Isaac gets help from some doctors, less so from others. Some down't listen to him, and are annoyed by him. One friend who proves she cares (because she has gone through something difficult as well, physically) makes a difference, too.

    The only other graphic narrative I can recall reading is a classic, one of the best, Epileptic by David B. about his family's struggles with David's brother's epilepsy in the seventies. They are distraught, trying everything to find a cure. The story focuses also on David's attempts to understand and communicate just what his brother is experiencing when he seizes. He uses what his brother communicates to him to render it in artistic terms, brilliantly.

    The main contribution this book makes to the literature of epilepsy is that it is a first person account (even if it is fiction) from the perspective of a young person with epilepsy, and not one who is verbally all that proficient in what is happening to him. It's hard for him to communicate with family, friends, us. So it's not a "literary" memoir; it communicates the very visceral experience of having epilepsy in all its dimensions largely through abstraction, through specific shapes and colors. It's an emotional story more than a philosophical one. I didn't always "like" Isaac, but I liked his sharing his story with us, in part for the ultimate hope it engenders.

  • Danielle Booey

    Ok so confession, I have epilepsy. I have had it for going on 9 years now. It is a hard disease to talk about just like so many that affect the brain. The stigma of having anything wrong with your brain, especially something that causes you to lose control of your body is terrifying for people who both have the disease and those who don't. It can be difficult to comprehend just how unnerving it is to have to constantly explain how your epilepsy works to people and just wait for their unconscious

    Ok so confession, I have epilepsy. I have had it for going on 9 years now. It is a hard disease to talk about just like so many that affect the brain. The stigma of having anything wrong with your brain, especially something that causes you to lose control of your body is terrifying for people who both have the disease and those who don't. It can be difficult to comprehend just how unnerving it is to have to constantly explain how your epilepsy works to people and just wait for their unconscious facial reactions. It is a little like coming out, it is never just once.

    I have tried reading books about epilepsy before, Epileptic by David B. comes to mind, but I had never really seen myself in the book. I can say with 100% certainty that Mis(h)adra is different. I read it and just paused in shock on so many pages because here was my story. Ok it is more dramatic than my story and my family never denied my disease, but the auras, overwhelming tiredness, constant sleep and water tracking, declining invites because I know they will be full of alcohol and late nights. Parts of the author's story are my story and I can't tell you what it means to finally see that part of myself reflected on the page.

    So I can say wholeheartedly and without reservation that this is a fantastic read for epileptics, their families, anyone who wants to better understand this disease, or someone who just wants to read a beautiful graphic novel.

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