Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

Comics & Graphic Novels Gay & Lesbian

Something, Not Nothing

A Story of Grief and Love

by (author) Sarah Leavitt

Arsenal Pulp Press
Initial publish date
Sep 2024
Gay & Lesbian, Biography & Memoir, Death, Grief, Bereavement, LGBT, Women
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2024
    List Price

Add it to your shelf

Where to buy it


A poignant and beautifully illustrated graphic memoir about love and loss and navigating a new life

In April 2020, cartoonist Sarah Leavitt's partner of twenty-two years, Donimo, died with medical assistance after years of severe chronic pain and a rapid decline at the end of her life. About a month after Donimo's death, Sarah began making comics again as a way to deal with her profound sense of grief and loss. The comics started as small sketches but quickly transformed into something totally unfamiliar to her. Abstract images, textures, poetic text, layers of watercolour, ink, and coloured pencil - for Sarah, the journey through grief was impossible to convey without bold formal experimentation. She spent two years creating these comics.

The result is Something, Not Nothing, an extraordinary book that delicately articulates the vagaries of grief and the sweet remembrances of enduring love. Moving and impressionistic, Something, Not Nothing shows that alongside grief, there is room for peace, joy, and new beginnings.

About the author

Sarah Leavitt has earned international acclaim as a writer and cartoonist. Her first book, Tangles: A story about Alzheimer's, my mother, and me, was published in Canada, the US, UK, Germany, France and Korea and a feature-length animation is in development. In 2010, it became the first work of graphic literature to be a finalist for the Writers' Trust Non-Fiction Prize. It was also a Globe and Mail Top 100 Book of 2010, the winner of the 2011 CBC Bookie Award for Best Comic or Graphic Novel, a finalist for the 2011 Alberta Readers' Choice Award and a finalist for the 2011 Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize. Her prose and comics have appeared in anthologies, magazines and newspapers in Canada, the US and the UK. Sarah teaches comics classes in the Creative Writing Program at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

Sarah Leavitt's profile page

Editorial Reviews

The fact that I wrote this blurb through tears should be enough of an endorsement. This book's visceral illustrations and words are a declaration of unending love to one who is lost, an apology for moving on, a commitment to joining the land of the living. Fellow grievers: prepare to be seen. -Catherine Hernandez, author of Scarborough

This book is so beautiful. It's hard to find something profound to say about a work of art this profound. I just think you should read it. -Zoe Whittall, author of Wild Failure

A powerful love story culled from the complicated honesty of medically assisted death. With unexpected and sometimes funny wisdoms as tender and searing as they are poetic and radiantly documentary, not since Maus have I felt so much in the pages, panels, and gutters of a comic book. Leavitt has made a memoir of heartbreaking wonder. -Canisia Lubrin, author of Code Noir

Leavitt labels Something Not Nothing "a collection of comics," but that phrase barely begins to describe Leavitt's formally innovative artwork: freehand panels and full-page images that combine poetic text with illustrations and abstract images and textures, realized in watercolor, ink, and colored pencil. She chronicles the couple's progress toward the decision to end Donimo's life, as well as her own deep resistance and terror, taking us literally to a place beyond words ... A uniquely gorgeous chronicle. Full box of tissues recommended. -Kirkus Reviews

Reading Sarah Leavitt's gorgeous memoir, I was struck by its silences. The places where language stopped or stuttered. The quiet that ambles forward beyond the death of a loved one. So many panels hold the weight of an absence impossible to fathom. The not-knowing. How death feels at once too true and not at all. This is the best kind of book, with all its unsettling comforts. We'll all need a book like this one day. Thank our atoms that Sarah Leavitt has gifted us this one. -Michael V. Smith, author of Queers Like Me

Sarah Leavitt has created a beautiful monument in this book: a primal portrait of grief and a powerful testament to a hard and lasting love. I believe that we as artists are trying to share our emotional realities with our readers and invite them into the feeling even when they've not had this particular experience. Leavitt succeeds in this over and over again through the intimacy she lets the reader in on and the powerful juxtaposition of her art and words. This book is a beautiful, deep, and powerful use of the comics form. -Nicole J Georges, author of Calling Dr. Laura

Sarah Leavitt's book is like nothing I have seen before. Hues, lines, textures articulate her deeply personal journey through grief just as much as the words - there is such wisdom and beauty here, which is only surpassed by love. What a gift to the world. -Hiromi Goto, author of Shadow Life

Something, Not Nothing is a stunning visual and poetic mapping of belonging, attachment, love, and tremendous loss. Through tiny portraits and vignettes, Leavitt charts a course through the emotional chaos of grief, anchored in an atmosphere of love and a practice of presence. The result is not your typical book about grief, but an artistic treatise challenging readers to live and love more courageously, especially in the most difficult of times. -Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, author of Noopiming

A gorgeous, heart-wrenching, deeply human meditation on love and loss. There were pages that lifted my spirits and pages that pierced me to my core. Sobbed through the majority of reading it, but couldn't put it down. Leavitt's mapmaking of the landscape of grief is a gift to us all. -Maia Kobabe, author of Gender Queer: A Memoir

Other titles by