Moving by Luis Yang Review
I have moved more times than I can count as a young child. Being born in Indianapolis, I hopped around the entire eastern United States, New England, and two provinces in China before finally settling down at the age of 7. When I was younger, I never found myself becoming particularly emotionally attached to a place. Perhaps because I had never lived long enough somewhere to be able to call it home. Despite this, a few years ago for reasons I cannot recall, I had the chance to stay in one of my childhood homes for a couple of days before it was torn down. Before I left, emotion overwhelmed me. The idea that somewhere I had lived would be demolished almost felt as if the memories that I had at that house would disappear along with it.
Luis Yang's Moving grapples with the unique feelings associated with moving house. Moving follows two women, Eli and Olea as they pack their things and prepare to leave. However, when the trucks pull up to the house, they find that they are not ready to go. For years, the women are bound to their old home, living out of the mountain of previously packed boxes. Yang creates an emotionally tense and immensely introspective reflection on the feelings of attachment and when it becomes time to move forward in life through the conflict between Eli and Olea as one wishes to leave while one wants to stay.
Yang's ink pen work is brilliant. His bold shading and almost sketchbook-like art style lend the comic to have the undertones of a horror comic which makes the deeply emotional conflict between Eli and Olea palpable. The panel organization and layout all throughout the comic fit the plot very well too and make the feelings of tension and emotion even stronger. Despite this, the story by itself can feel a little confusing at certain points during the first read-through and relies on the art to clear the air. All things said Luis Yang's Moving is still an excellent read.
Spoilers beyond this point
The relationship between Eli and Olea is unique as they are both the same person. Olea is the part of Eli's psyche that cannot move forward from their current home despite all of the potential abuse and hard times that they have gone through. It is also possible that Olea is a personification of the memories and experiences that are associated with Eli's current home. Eli may feel trapped and bound to those past traumas and struggles to let go of Olea and leave. Also, the symbolism of the mountain of cardboard boxes that Eli and Olea pack is intriguing. When Eli and Olea try to move out of the house together, they start to bring the boxes down with them. After ditching this first move, the boxes line the walls of Eli's bedroom, looming over her while she sleeps. However, when Eli finally decides to leave at the end of the comic, the boxes are nowhere to be seen and she only takes a singular suitcase with her. It is likely that the boxes, like Olea, are a symbol of the mental baggage and trauma associated with her home. Yang also delves further into the effects of childhood abuse on Eli. Although not specifically discussed, Eli's mother, who does not have a face, tells Eli that she never wants Eli to return after he leaves, hinting at the idea that Eli may have been abused as a child and has a tumultuous relationship with her mother.