“You can make your own destiny. Good or bad, it’s up to you.”
An award-winning novel by Dave Chua, the narrative was turned into graphic novel with the help of artist Koh Hong Teng, and editor Joyce Sim. Gone Case captures the life of an average, HDB-living, 12-year-old Singaporean boy, Yong. Yong deals with issues like family squabbles, peer pressure, the struggle between social & school acceptance and doing the right thing, examinations, and death, among other things. Now that the novel has been transformed to Graphic Novel form, a few things have been enhanced.
Yong, Reluctant Kidult
In a metropolitan state like Singapore, inter-connected, it is easy to forget how reality is for the individual. We see the advancements and think – how good Singaporeans must have it. However, many people will always forget the faces behind a country’s success – the toils of every individual. Yong, in this case, represents children who have to grow up fast, and as a result, are often ridiculed or ignored.
Faced with new responsibilities in school and at home, Yong has to go through with them, with social consequence. His struggle between doing what is right and doing what his social circle expects him to carries on through the art. This time, Yong’s story intertwines with his friend, Liang, their stories juxtaposed with their different backgrounds.
With a directionless sister and a mother who could not seem to care less, Liang’s happy-go-lucky self turns into a full-out rebel as he finds Yong becoming “stuck-up” due to added responsibilities. While we may see Liang as a selfish friend or a “friend” who does not bother to understand others, he has his own difficulties too – something Yong continues to see as he expresses concern over this close friend of him.
In Yong’s family situation, one can see that they are dealing with the fundamental issues of life. And although Yong wishes to look beyond that, reality does not allow him to look that much further as yet.
The Problems of the Household
Gone Case brings about reminders of an old Chinese song – 家家有本难念的经 – every household has its problems. And it’s especially enhanced here, we can see the problems, but it’s up to each household to go through with it. And like the ending to Avenue Q, everything will go on for now, which is effectively how life goes on despite whatever happens to each individual.
Though one thing is clear about this story – We are who we believe ourselves to be. If we succumb to societal pressure on our identity, believing ourselves to be “gone cases” will be as they say so.
Style & Structure
The fuss-free art in each panel focusses on the essential aspects of the story, and also brings out Yong’s family situation – they are dealing with the fundamentals of life, and although Yong wishes to look beyond that, reality only allows him to look as far as he can. Koh Hong Teng also employs an effective repetitive scene technique to show characters in their stage of observation and ponder, and possibly to encourage the readers to ponder about their own situation as well.
Gone Case was written by Dave Chua, for more information on him and this book, click here.
In the meantime…
With that, it ends my Next-in-Reading journey for 2014! Come 2015, Next-in-Reading will now be on every 2nd Monday of the month, with more sections and other things to come!