Spiegelman deftly weaves in her own coming of age — watching the Twin Towers fall as a high school freshman in New York City, her explorations of her own sexuality — so that the two stories both touch and veer from one another ... Spiegelman approaches her subjects with sensitivity, wisdom, generosity, and honesty, with an acute sense of the responsibilities and risks involved with sharing other people’s stories. There are moments that sound a little like the revelations that come from the therapist’s couch, but more than anything, the book shows us, in intimate detail, what a strange thing it is, to have a mother, how painful, how powerful.
With this fiercely female chain of stories, Spiegelman has decided to plunge right into the most intimate and radioactive psychic material most women have on hand ... Spiegelman is masterful at loading up her language with more meaning than is at first apparent. Often that fantastical tendency—that rush to interpret—imbues her words with a kind of elliptical peril ... On the subject of memory, Spiegelman is remarkable—mature, wise, and richly expressive.
Spiegelman is insightful about the malleability and power of memory and eloquent about the hidden currents in her family's mythology. But I'm Supposed to Protect You from All This suffers from aggressive, artificial poignancy: Laden ashtrays and meaningful silences and figures forever disappearing portentously into the night. Just a little bit of humor or self-awareness would dispel the lingering and sticky too-muchness of these moments, the heaviness of lyricism for its own sake.