I Know You Rider
I Know You Rider
By Leslie Stein. Published by Drawn & Quarterly.
Hardcover, 144 pages, Colour, 2020.
A candid and philosophical memoir tackling abortion and the complex decision to reproduce
I Know You Rider is Leslie Stein’s rumination on the many complex questions surrounding the decision to reproduce. Opening in an abortion clinic, the book accompanies Stein through a year of her life, steeped in emotions she was not quite expecting while also looking far beyond her own experiences. She visits with a childhood friend who’s just had twins and is trying to raise them as environmentally as possible, chats with another who’s had a vasectomy to spare his wife a lifetime of birth control, and spends Christmas with her own mother, who aches for a grandchild.
Through these melodically rendered conversations with loved ones and strangers, Stein weaves one continuing conversation with herself. She presents a sometimes sweet, sometimes funny, and always powerfully empathetic account, asking what makes a life meaningful and where we find joy, amid other questions—most of which have no solid answers, much like real life.
Instead of focusing on trauma, I Know You Rider is a story about unpredictability, change, and adaptability, adding a much-needed new perspective to a topic often avoided or discussed through a black-and-white lens. People are ever changing, contradicting themselves, and having to deal with unforeseen circumstances: Stein holds this human condition with grace and humor, as she embraces the cosmic choreography and keeps walking, open to what life blows her way.
"Stein’s meditative, ephemerally painted diary comics reach a profound new level in her latest memoir, which focuses on her abortion, its context, and her recovery and accompanying grief and relief. She illuminates both the vulnerability and self-determination inherent in this often hidden experience, with a frank observational gaze that brings the reader intimately along." —Publishers Weekly, Best Books of 2020
"[I Know You Rider] hews closely to the weighty question of having children, following Stein in the year after her abortion, drawing on her conversations with parents, children, her own mother, and herself."
—Arianna Rebolini, Buzzfeed's Most Anticipated Books of 2020
"Gently told with humor and grace, I Know You Rider will resonate with many who’ve reflected on reproductive decisions—past, present and future." —Ms. Magazine
"[I Know You Rider] is not only about the right to choose an abortion, but also about the choices every person makes about how to exist in a body in the world—ethical choices around climate change, career decisions, and creating and maintaining relationships of all kinds." —Rewire.News
"An honest conversation about abortion and reproductive decisions... One of its subtle beauties is Stein’s depiction of life’s mundanities and how frequently reproduction tinges the edges. It’s conversations with taxi/Lyft drivers, a parent’s outspoken desire for grandchildren, the beauty of local environments, and the sparkling banter of media pundits (thankfully absent in the memoir) that inform our reproductive decisions." —Vida Review
"Life, whether you have them or not, is not entirely about children, and the decision to have them or not is weighed against so many things, especially the parts of life that do not involve them at all, and Stein depicts those moments well." —Comics Beat