Zine Review: The Hallway Closet

hallway-closet

The Hallway Closet
Perzine, Evi Tampold (author), Carol Nash (editor), 26 pgs, Tampold Publishing, cavershambooksellers.com, $12

The Hallway Closet is a remarkable graphic novel written by Evi, a 16-year-old author and illustrator, about living with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). More than that, it is about the relationship between a daughter and her mother, an exploration of the ways we learn self-control, and a vivid picture of the level of devotion and partnership required by parents with children who experience differences of cognitive processing.

At the beginning of the book Evi describes the anger and her overwhelming feelings of lack of control when she was six. The title describes a space where Evi’s mother would lead her when she would get “hyperactive” – she would sit or stand in the hallway closet with the lights off, amongst boxes and suitcases, until she felt calm enough to come out. The reader is presented with a full-bodied picture of what being in the closet must have been like – Tampold uses text and image to describe the effect of the closet on all of her senses. Contrary to what you might think, however, this closet represented a space of healing for Evi. Her mother would sit outside the door until Evi declared, of her own volition, that she was ready to rejoin the world.


excerpt_the-hallway-closet

The book is 26 pages, printed in black and white with a brightly-coloured cover. The images are simple and stark, representing both the necessary vacuum of sensory deprivation inside the closet and Evi, quite literally, hugging the vacuum. The latter part of the zine represents an adolescent Evi exploring her memories of being in the closet now that she no longer uses it. Though the zine could have done a better job acknowledging the problems with this strategy for other kids with ADHD or other coping strategies that worked for Evi (admittedly, a thorough exploration of sensory deprivation as a parenting strategy and calming technique isn’t really the point of the book), it opens up an important discussion about what a healing space looks like, and how families can help youth find their own. We often think of coping strategies as exclusively self-generated: Tampold’s book highlights the importance of working together with those around you to develop these strategies.

Part of the proceeds of The Hallway Closet will fund Alpha II Alternative School, a public school founded in part by Carol Nash, Evi’s mother. (CJ Blennerhassett)

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