Humanoid’s Life Drawn imprint introduces Little Josephine: A Memory in Pieces by writer Valérie Villieu and artist Raphaël Sarfati. This is a moving, visually stunning chronicle of the relationship between a caregiver and her patient, Josephine, who is living with Alzheimer’s, a disease that has stolen away too many loved ones before their time.
Humanoids’ Life Drawn imprint has been showcasing deeply personal and political stories: acclaimed biographies of Rod Serling and Hedy Lamarr; a memoir about the New York Marathon; and an exploration of the Vietnamese immigrant communities known as Little Saigons. Now, following William Roy’s intimate and surprisingly funny graphic memoir In Vitro, comes a book that explores the end of our days. is a moving and visually arresting memoir chronicling the relationship between a caregiver and her patient Josephine, who is living with Alzheimer’s.
Little Josephine is an account of the author’s experience caring for the elderly Josephine. Though vastly different in age, their connection is instantaneous—and despite the debilitating disease that Josephine faces every single day, they’re able to form a beautiful friendship that transcends the reaches of modern medicine. Equal parts heartwarming, whimsical, and chilling, Little Josephine charts the highs and lows of their relationship as Valérie attempts to care for, understand, and communicate with the loving and capricious Josephine in the face of her escalating dementia and an indifferent elder care system.
Sarfarti’s incredible artwork embraces what is unique about the graphic novel medium: panels scatter, disappear and loop just like Josephine’s mercurial memory. Library Journal praises how “the artwork illustrates the missing pieces of memory and captures the jagged mental landscape of the patient.” Publishers Weekly says the “message is unmistakable and soulful: readers, if they live long enough, may become Josephine. In centering the day-to-day experience of elder care, Villieu and Sarfati show how that stage of life doesn’t have to be a tragedy—but only if society commits to doing better.”
As Josephine escapes the boundaries of the page in search of clarity, readers are forced to reckon with the same instability and uncertainty she faces daily—as well as reckon with the realities of an overburdened system that makes the lives of Alzheimer’s patients far harder than they need to be. This first-hand account of an unlikely friendship between a visiting nurse and her patient becomes a much bigger story as the author draws poignant connections to love, memory, society, and what we owe to one another.
Little Josephine: A Memory in Pieces is available on April 7, but you can check out this exclusive preview below: