Oomen stroomt over
A journal of change
Graphic novel, personal memoir, and a creative approach to the menopause
Riding the Wave is the highly personal account of a woman confronting the menopause. ‘I was fifty-two and couldn’t stand being myself any longer,’ is how Oomen describes her search for the best way to cope with hot flushes, raging hormones, brain mush and the bodily transformation of a woman of a certain age, in a world where youth is the norm and ageing, especially women’s ageing, is supposed to remain invisible.
Oomen had previously published books about puberty (her How to Survive… series for teenagers was immensely popular), when she realized that very little has been written about that other major transition in a woman’s life. She knew little about the menopause before finding herself right in the middle of it. Her struggle produced Riding the Wave, a memoir in which she gives shape to the fears and doubts felt by women going through the menopause, and provides practical assistance to anyone tackling its demons. She does not believe that the menopause has to feel insuperable; rather that it can be seen as a time that offers scope for new opportunities and personal growth.
Riding the Wave is part of the upcoming genre of the graphic novel/memoir by artists who refuse to choose between text and illustration, presenting their personal quest in a refreshing and creative manner. Francine Oomen is a master of the genre, on a par with famous storytellers in word and image such as Maira Kalman, Marjane Satrapi and Alison Bechdel. She finds the personal graphic novel the ideal medium for making experiences of sorrow and loss bearable, light, and accessible to a broad readership.