The Third Person
The Third Person
By Emma Grove. Published by Drawn & Quarterly.
Softcover, 920 pages, B&W, 2022
A boldly drawn, unforgettable memoir about trauma and the barriers to gender affirming health care
In the winter of 2004, a shy woman named Emma sits in Toby’s office. She wants to share this wonderful new book she’s reading, but Toby, her therapist, is concerned with other things. Emma is transgender, and has sought out Toby for approval for hormone replacement therapy. Emma has shown up at the therapy sessions as an outgoing, confident young woman named Katina, and a depressed, submissive workaholic named Ed. She has little or no memory of her actions when presenting as these other two people. And then Toby asks about her childhood . . .
As the story unfolds, we discover clues to Emma’s troubled past and how and why these other two people may have come into existence. As Toby juggles treating three separate people, each with their own unique personalities and memories, he begins to wonder if Emma is merely acting out to get attention, or if she actually has Dissociative Identity Disorder. Is she just a troubled woman in need of help? And is “the third person” in her brain protecting her, or derailing her chances of ever finding peace?
The Third Person is a riveting memoir from newcomer Emma Grove. Drawn in thick, emotive lines, with the refined style of a comics vet, Grove has created a singular, gripping depiction of the intersection of identities and trauma. The Third Person is a testament to the importance of having the space to heal and live authentically.
NPR Books We Love 2022
Literary Hub The Best Reviewed Graphic Literature of 2022
#2 on the Publishers Weekly 2022 Critics Poll
"Moving, funny, and brilliant, Grove’s account of what it was like to live with and learn she had dissociative identity disorder is a must-read."—NPR, Books We Love 2022
"The heaviness of the story’s subject matter—dissociative identity disorder, trauma, the limitations and small graces of therapy—is leavened by lighthearted humor, mordant dialogue, and expressive illustrations..."—Electric Literature, Most Anticipated LGBTQ+ Books of 2022
"[Grove] so clearly communicates grief, pain, hope, determination, and loneliness through not only words but also the eyes, postures, and silhouettes of her characters. This visual emotion, along with the frank and vulnerable dialogue, hits even harder because the art style is so spare... Readers who can't get enough of graphic memoir, particularly the works of Alison Bechdel, are the ideal audience for this moving volume."—Booklist
"A masterfully crafted, fearlessly vulnerable memoir stressing the importance of coming to terms with trauma in order to better know oneself."—Library Journal, Starred Review
"The Third Person is one of the most impactful books I’ve read in years."—Multiversity Comics
"Much of The Third Person takes place in therapists’ offices, which simultaneously allows readers insight into Emma as a character and the power dynamics of patient-therapist relationships."—Shondaland
"This beautifully drawn and intimately written graphic memoir recounts Emma’s search for identity, expression, hope and courage."—Ms. Magazine
"Through The Third Person Grove is the sort of voice I hope will convince the public that trans folks deserve and warrant the care they are asking for, at the time and place they ask for it." —Newcity Lit
"The Third Personfeatures 900-plus pages of simple black-and-white drawings, but only your arms will get tired." —The Philadelphia Inquirer
"With quiet ease, Grove draws readers into Emma’s world and makes them feel the complexities and contradictions of her experience. Grove proves an impressive new voice in comics." —Publishers Weekly
"It’s a fascinating, moving memoir that occurs almost entirely within a therapist’s office. Don’t be intimidated by its length — I was able to read it in three sittings." —BuzzFeed
“Emma Grove has written a beautiful, vulnerable, exquisite book that offers an uncommonly clear look at a mind coming to know itself.”
—Torrey Peters, Detransition, Baby
“Emma Grove’s graphic memoir is haunting, unsettling, and triumphant. What starts off as a memoir of transition ultimately becomes a story of the resilience of the human spirit. How do we become ourselves How do we find harmony between all the parts of ourselves These universal questions are at the heart of The Third Person, an unforgettable work of courage.” —Jennifer Finney Boylan, She’s Not There and Good Boy
“Don’t be intimidated by this book’s page count—I read the entire thing in one evening. The simple yet expressive art, the well-paced dialogue, and the emotional journey drew me in. Grove writes of her experience seeking therapy to advance her gender transition, only to uncover a deep well of unprocessed childhood trauma. I’m extremely glad she was able to heal to the point where writing this book was possible.”—Maia Kobabe, Gender Queer