Review – Walking Distance by Lizzy Stewart (Avery Hill Publishing)

Publisher: Avery Hill Publishing
Written and illustrated by: Lizzy Stewart
Release Date: September 2019

“I like walking because it takes me out of my head and into the world. Walking is the clearest way for me to participate in life, and that’s the best I can do.”

I don’t claim to have any idea what it’s like for a woman walking around a big city, but throughout the course of this brand new graphic novel from Lizzy Stewart and Avery Hill Publishing, I did get to experience some of the conflicting blend of empowerment, agency and anxiety that frequently goes hand-in-hand with such a seemingly straightforward undertaking.

That said, Stewart is the first to admit that this book isn’t necessarily written from “a women’s perspective”, but more from the perspective of herself as an individual.  Nobody’s experiences are universal after all, and in this subtle distinction the book immediately becomes far more personal and, for me, far more enlightening.

Throughout the course of this 60 page hardcover release, Stewart shares her fascination about watching women walking in movies, as well her own experiences, insecurities, uncertainties, and the constant battle that she (and, I’m guessing a great many of us) has in engaging with – and feeling like a worthwhile contributor to – the modern world.

More than a graphic novel though, Walking Distance reads like an illustrated essay or memoir, with blocks of texts interspersed with Stewart’s striking, straightforward-yet-evocative watercolour images.  Several of her proclamations along the way are immensely powerful and poignant, and I’m sure a lot of readers will doubtless be able to relate to some of her views, even if Stewart admits that isn’t necessarily her intention.

After all, she isn’t trying to capture the universal experience of a woman in a big city, nor the experience of a person in their early thirties trying to find their place in the world.  She’s just telling her own story in the best way she can, and that’s certainly something to be admired in this day and age.

As a reader, I’m not entirely sure who this book is aimed at or what purpose it serves other than to provide an insight into the life of a deepy complex individual (hey, aren’t we all?) with all the relatability and unfamiliarity that comes along with that.  What I do know is that I was utterly gripped from the first page to the last, and that Walking Distance made me feel a great many things about life, my own hang-ups and insecurities, and provided some extra perspective on how other people view the world.  As such, it’s a book I have absolutely no problems giving my firm recommendation.

You can order yourself a copy of Walking Distance priced just £10.99 from the Avery Hill Publishing website (CLICK HERE)

The writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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