• Shaun Tan’s “The Arrival” and thoughts on Second Chances

I don’t do reviews much… mainly because I’m not that great at it… and also, you can find a thousand reviews of just about everything out there possible.

However, I took a gander at Shaun Tan’s breathtaking book, “The Arrival”, recently and I just can’t keep my mouth shut.

The Arrival is a story told all in pictures.  Beautiful, painstakingly drawn pictures.  In the credits of the book, Tan mentions that the book took 4 years to complete, and it shows.  Even without the story, the artwork is stunning on it’s own.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from a wordless story, but what I discovered was a wonderful lost art form.  Usually reserved for children’s books, Tan uses the technique to tell one of the most touching stories I’ve read all year.

And the story itself is what really got me.  The Arrival follows a man as he leaves his wife and young daughter to journey to a new land in order to give himself and his family a new home and a new hope.

It is an incredibly imaginative allegorical retelling of the immigrant story.  Instead of escaping wars and turmoil, the characters escape creatures and giants.  The language and customs of the new land are like nothing you’ve ever seen.  And what you find is, in today’s society, of being so modern and in touch with the rest of the world, Tan’s take on the immigrant story is really the ONLY way to really get across the confusion and strangeness of a new world.

The Arrival, ultimately, is about second chances.  The book touched me deeply in this way.  I’ve always held such deep respect for the immigrant.  To not settle for the hand you’ve been dealt, but to dream of greatness, and to do whatever it takes to make that greatness a reality.  And I think that’s something we can all relate to, whether the hand we’ve been dealt is being born poor or sick, or whether we just live with regrets & mistakes.

Three ideas stood out to me from the book that I would say are key to second chances:

1. Determination – The hero of the book sets out on his journey with no doubt that he will soon be reunited with his family.  He hits a number of road blocks and a great deal of time passes, but he never gives up.  He never says “this is too hard” and falls back into the hand he’d been dealt.

2. Simplicity – The hero of the book doesn’t immediately search for lavish surroundings or a quality job.  He takes what he can get.  To him, to simply be in a new, safe, free country is all he wants.  He doesn’t need more than that.  His goal is simple.

3. Community – The hero of the book quickly surrounds himself with people who help him along the journey.  Along the way, they help meet his needs, point him in the right direction, and provide a joyful escape.

If you haven’t read it already, please take a look at Shaun Tan’s The Arrival.  It is a very simple, but very beautiful story.  And as you face your second chances, keep these ideas in mind and know that no matter what you are facing, it is possible to overcome whatever hand life has dealt you.

1 comment
  1. Glen said:

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