Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

You'll Never Know #1

You'll Never Know, Vol. 1: A Good and Decent Man

Rate this book
You’ll Never Know is the first graphic novel from C. Tyler (Late Bloomer)
and sure to be one of the most acclaimed books of the year. It tells the story of the 50-something author’s relationship with her World War II veteran father, and how his war experience shaped her childhood and affected her relationships in adulthood. “You’ll Never Know” refers not only to the title of her parents’ courtship song from that era, but also to the many challenges the author encountered in uncovering the difficult and painful truths about her Dad’s service—challenges exacerbated by her own tumultuous family life.

You’ll Never Know is Tyler’s first first full-fledged graphic novel (after two volumes of short stories). Unlike many other graphic memoirs which have opted for simple, stylized drawings and limited color or black and white, You’ll Never Know makes full use of Tyler’s virtuosity as a cartoonist: stunningly rendered in detailed inks and subtle watercolors, it plunges the reader headlong into the diverse locales: her father’s wartime experiences and courtship, her own childhood and adolescence, and contemporary life.
The unique landscape format, and the lush variety of design choices and rendering techniques, make perusing You’ll Never Know like reading a family album—but one with a strong, compelling, sharply told story.

You’ll Never Know’s release schedule and format emulate those of Chris Ware’s ACME Novelty Library:
three beautifully designed, large-format hardcover volumes released annually to complete a trilogy of astonishing breadth, depth, and sensitivity.

Nominated for two 2010 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards: (Best Writer/Artist: Nonfiction; Best Painter/Multimedia Artist: Interior Art).

104 pages, Hardcover

First published April 30, 2009

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Carol Tyler

22 books17 followers

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
41 (17%)
4 stars
101 (42%)
3 stars
69 (29%)
2 stars
24 (10%)
1 star
2 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 40 reviews
Profile Image for Malbadeen.
613 reviews7 followers
October 15, 2010
I will never date a man that has lost a significant other to death*. Because I just don't think I could deal with the pressure. If a girl breaks up with you because she's a bitch or she's crazy or she's uptight, I'm totaly willing to step up and be the, comparatively nice girl, or the sane one, or the adventerous one, but who can compete with the memory of someone that is out of your life for a reason that was no one's decision? YOU DON'T HAVE A CHANCE!

That's how I feel about You'll Never Know - it really didn't have a chance for me because the whole time I was comparing it to Maus and Maus II. If I were to try and view it in isolation I would probably note some of the same things I did in the Maus books. How I appreciated the authors struggle to view her parents in their entirity, how difficult that is. Actually I guess that's about where the comparisions stop.

I feel like I was just starting to let go of the comparisons, and then I would be confronted with another thing opportunity to bring them back up. Some things that I had mixed emotions about:

1. It was interesting to see her try and weave her current life patterns to her past but it felt too abrupt most of the time.

2. I like the illustrations but I rarely felt like they were integral in moving the story forward. It was more like they accompanied the story than carried it.

3. I thought the transition in style from her life to her dads war time experience was interesting but still too abrupt at times.

4. The ending felt waaaaaay to abrupt for this format. It felt more like a comic book and yet this is an oversized, hard back expensive book.

All that being said, I am intersted in reading the second book and had I not ever read Maus I might have liked it a lot more.

*That is a flat out lie. I would totally date somone that has lost somone to death. I'd be insecure as all get out, and probably over compensate and ruin the relationship in the long run but I'm just sayin....I'd give it a go. Especially if that someone where taller than me, and employeed, and had read more than oh say....the back of a shampoo bottle, or if he had a beard, or if he wore glasses. If he had a beard and wore glasses and was taller than me, I might be willing to forgo the employeed and reading stuff.
oops. wait goodreads? Craiglist? I keep getting them confused.

Profile Image for Raina.
1,596 reviews125 followers
October 18, 2016
I'm a sucker for the autobiomemoirgns.

This is a highly personal gn by C. Tyler about her experiences getting to know her father's history in World War II as a soldier. As such, it's a fun compare/contrast with Maus or The Imposter's Daughter. Especially because the visual style is very different from either of those offerings. The main drawback here is that it ends before the story really resolves. Publish the next Book, Tyler!

Both of my parents read this and we're all eagerly awaiting the sequel. A really nice demo of the practicality of integrating images into text, but very approachable text-heavy format. Very readable and fascinating. I don't even really esthetically enjoy Tyler's illustration style, but I was sucked in by the story.
Profile Image for Ken.
299 reviews5 followers
June 27, 2012
You'll Never Know: A Good and Decent Man is the first volume in a graphic memoir trilogy by C. Tyler. When I first read this book, I had intended to review the series together, but after reading volume 2, that seemed like less of a good idea. In this first volume, C. Tyler introduces us to her father, also C. Tyler, a World War II veteran, whose rough manner and changeable moods cause friction in family relationships, particularly between himself and his daughter.

For many years, Tyler had asked her father to tell her about his experiences in the war, a request that he refused until an unexpected call where he speaks cryptically of Italian rivers running with blood. By the time Tyler arrives at her parents' house, her father's willingness to talk has largely passed, and she is left with a mystery over what event happened to her father when he was stationed in Italy.

Beyond this mystery, which is at the core of the trilogy, the first volume has three main plotlines, the most prominent of which focuses on Tyler's relationship with her father. Throughout the book, she moves back in forth in time, recalling events from her childhood but also in the contemporary time of the book, seeking to understand how her father's war experiences shaped her own child- and adulthood.

Tyler has her own parent/child relationship to navigate, as she struggles to remain close to her teenage daughter as the two struggle through a separation from Tyler's husband. This separation is tied to the first plot line, as Tyler's move away from her husband and back to the Midwest brought her closer to her parents and her father's story.

Interspersed between these two narratives, Tyler presents sections of the book as a scrapbook of her father's wartime experience, beginning with his entrance into the army and following him through his various assignments.

After a particularly vehement outburst from her father near the end of the volume, Tyler provides Hitler with a cameo appearance; he arrives to tell the author, "I am proud of the pain my war inflicts on your children."* It is a particularly ominous and chilling end to the first volume.

As you might guess, the story Tyler weaves here is both linear and recursive. The scrapbook section presents a linear chronology of C. Tyler's service, while the other sections work through time in a more fluid fashion, recollecting memory as they reflect events in the present day.

My favorite drawing from this volume is a map that shows the route Tyler's father took from the hardware store--he is an incurable handyman--through her town to home. Through the various road signs and other details, one of the central themes of the memoir emerges: "Not all scars are visible." You'll Never Know: A Good and Decent Man is a fascinating search for those scars--both her father's and the author's own.

*Translating from memory there—that is at least the sense of it, if not the exact wording.
Profile Image for Paul Schulzetenberg.
148 reviews6 followers
February 28, 2010
Great drawings, mediocre storyline. I grabbed this from my local library, thinking it'd be an examination of life a la Maus or American Splendor. However, this work never manages to hit same emotional depth. The book is about the artist's father, and while it spends the most time chronicling his fighting in World War II, the most interesting parts are the parts about the author, and about her relationship with her father. Tyler herself seems to know this sometimes. She will take extended side trips talking about her current life and her complex and sometimes difficult relationships with family and lovers. Those parts really shine, as they are laden with genuine emotion.

Unfortunately, a significant chunk of the book gets away from this, and those are the parts where it tends to drag. The parts about World War II feel flat and uninteresting. It starts to become clear that this is a story being told to you by somebody who had a story told to them. Almost like reading an essay written by a child in school who was told to interview their parents about the biggest event of their lives. The perspective is gone from those parts, and it becomes a very iterative panel-by-panel dissection of various vignettes.

The drawing is beautiful, but the emotion and vitality of the book are erratic. I am interested in reading the next book, because this series shows promise, but at least through this book, it is unfulfilled.
Profile Image for Keith Schnell.
Author 1 book7 followers
March 31, 2014
This is the first of three graphic novels – or volumes of the same graphic novel – by C. Tyler describing her relationship with her father as she tries to understand the impact that the Second World War had on him while at the same time working through the effects that his personality had on her own life and relationships. In reviewing it, I wonder if I shouldn’t have finished the other two volumes and reviewed them together in order to do it justice. This is because while the author’s choice of subject matter will undoubtedly resonate with a generation of adults whose lives were shaped by their parents’ experiences in the War, she manages to finish Book One without managing to say a great deal about either of those things. This is not to say that the storytelling is stilted or unconvincing: the characters are all realistically depicted and the artwork well executed, but finishing the book leaves one with the impression that the author tried to connect with her father and understand his life but, doubtless like many of her contemporaries, failed. When she finishes on the last page with a drawing of herself at a drafting table, saying “that’s enough for now,” you can’t help but say, “no, it really isn’t.”
240 reviews
April 16, 2016
When I read a memoir, it is hard for me to say that I don't give the book 5 stars because someone was so generous enough to share their personal experiences with the World and that is difficult and scary. My score is in no way related to the content of Carol Tyler's life, but more in the fact that I felt like this book was missing something. I like the parallel that Tyler was drawing between her relationship with her Dad and her relationship with her estranged husband. She mentions that daughters look for men like there fathers, which is something that is often said about women and this book really paints a good picture of that. My favorite historical period to read about is World War 2. So when I read about this series of books, I was excited to read them. I liked the glimpse in to Charles's time in the war through Carol's making of a scrapbook. I think that was very creative. My reasons for giving this book a 2. I liked the book, but I didn't always want to pick up the book and keep reading. I think this book was missing something, maybe that has to do with the fact that it is a trilogy. I will read the next book in the trilogy. I am not sure that I would recommend this book to people unless they specifically have an interest in the subject matter.
115 reviews9 followers
March 7, 2010
This one is listed as a graphic memoir on the front cover. It is a look at a girl's relationship with her father and her search for the story of his exploits during World War II. Having just finished another similar themed story a few days ago- The Imposters Daughter, I couldn't help but to compare the two. I liked the Imposters Daughter more, in story comparison and art, but this one was still very good.There is an important page in this book that really hit home with me . In it, the author tells of " Experts and poets agree : The pattern of romance for a girl is set by her relationship with her father. " Of course having an 18 year old daughter right now makes me psychoanalyze what kind of relationship I have had with her, and if my influence in her life will have any long ranging influence on her outlook on men. We'll see I guess. You always hope your daughter wiil seek out a man who has similar traits as you,as I think my sister eventually did, but that's a topic for another time.I also thought it ended on an abrupt note, and I'm not quite sure if I cared enough to read the next volume whenever it comes out.
Profile Image for Batmark.
159 reviews3 followers
August 8, 2016
This trilogy reminded me, in so many ways, of Art Spiegelman's Maus. Like Maus, You'll Never Know is the story of a cartoonist's attempts to explore and understand a father's traumatic Second World War experiences. The father's reminiscences are interspersed with autobiographical segments that deal not only with the father/child relationship but also the child's relationship with other family members and loved ones.

The books are also very different, of course. An infantryman's war experience can be only tenuously comparable to a concentration camp survivor's experience. Both are traumatic, but in very different ways. And Tyler's realistic color-pencil drawings have little in common with Spiegelman's bold, cartoony line-art.

Yet both books gave me the same feeling one gets when experiencing another person's life through this most engrossing of creative media: comics. Tyler is masterful in her construction of her family's world. One gets the sense one really knows her after reading this book. It's not true, of course--it's an illusion. But the skill required to create that illusion is rare enough to be a remarkable talent.
Profile Image for Emilia P.
1,708 reviews49 followers
February 21, 2010
I want to like Carol Tyler more than I do. Her style is wobbily and unique and her voice is not too cute, pretty smart, fairly personal, slightly funny. And her coloring is great. But something doesn't connect, maybe she's just not as weird as I want her to be. Which is not to say she's not good. She is!

This was a neat beginning to a story --about Tyler's father's time in the service during WWII -- as well as the story of Tyler and her parents relationship and her relationship with her daughter. It's not too sentimental or too angry or too anything, and I like it for that. But it's a little hard to latch onto. This isn't helped by the fact that it's only Book One. This seems like something that would work better as one whole story rather than a series.

So - I'll totally read the rest but this doesn't stand great alone. But she is still pretty great.
Profile Image for Lindy.
118 reviews38 followers
January 18, 2016
This bittersweet memoir told in comic strips explores the way events in history continue to have repercussions. Carol Tyler's father was a young American soldier who fought in World War II. He was taciturn, prone to sudden rages and would never talk about his experiences there. Carol was born in about 1950, grew up surrounded by siblings, attended Catholic schools, married, moved far away, had a daughter, split up with her husband - all the normal stuff. What is remarkable is her honest examination of her own life and how it was shaped by her family, as well as her determination to delve into the emotional scars of her father's past. It wasn't until he was in his nineties that stories about war suddenly began to pour out of him. Something awful happened in Italy, but we still don't know what it was by the end of book one.
2,431 reviews47 followers
August 12, 2009
remember the second Star Wars movie? at the end Han is trapped in caronite(?) but nothing is resolved. paid three bucks to see the thing and it wasn't finished. that's what this book is like, unfinished. the climax is about to happen and...
that's enough for now, i'll get to it when you spend $25 on volume two in a couple years.
the book is compared to Maus and Peresepolis, because they were two volume books i assume. but they were two, seperate, self-contained volumes.
the art is nice.
she refers to her ex/husband Justin and thanks Justin Green on the flyleaf. i wonder if this is the author/artist of one of my favourit stips, The Sign Game. if so, she draws him much softer, kinder than he draws himself.
Profile Image for Thebruce1314.
825 reviews4 followers
May 26, 2016
This was actually a lot heavier than I expected it to be when I first picked it up, in more ways than one. Besides being a mix of an autobiography/biography (C. Tyler and her father), the book seems to act like a kind of therapy for the author as she works through some of the obstacles that have arisen in her life.
I expected this to be more about the war experiences of the author's father, but instead it is kind of a journey to discover what happened, as he never really talked about the war until later in life.
There is a lot of information on each page, and it can be kind of overwhelming sometimes, but the book is beautifully drawn and the story is one that I'm sure many can relate to.
Profile Image for Melody.
2,629 reviews262 followers
August 20, 2011

4/2010- Graphic novel/memoir in which Tyler attempts to get some information from her dad regarding what happened to him during World War II. It also spends some time on Tyler herself in the present as she deals with her husband's infidelity. I found her insights to be poignant and incisive, her eye fond but unsentimental, and her drawings workmanlike and interesting. I wish there wasn't such a cliffhanger of an ending- my cursory research doesn't lead me to believe that there's a sequel coming anytime soon, either. It's well worth a look, I think it does a wonderful job making a window into the enigma of the silent WWII vets.
Profile Image for Robert.
Author 37 books120 followers
October 9, 2010
Carol Tyler, a masterful cartoonist, has always been a favorite of mine, so I was very pleased to be able to get my hands on a copy of this. I don't know how many more volumes of this story there will be, but count me in for the long haul. This telling of Tyler's father's experiences in WWII and the echoing effect they had on both him, his daughter, and the rest of their family is warm, tender, and lovingly wrought. It is also searching for understanding, a recurrent theme in all of Tyler's work. Currently reading again to prep for volume 2, which I just got and can't wait to get to.
Profile Image for Earline.
845 reviews
July 28, 2016
So my review may be a bit biased because I am such a huge C Tyler fan and Carol showed us a few of her finished pages in class, and I loved her presentations about this epic project.

I was really won over by the overwhelming sincerity of this book. I love and admire that Carol isn't afraid to tell it like it is and let it all hang out.

Overall a great start to an amazing story about the effects of war and an exploration of the burden of truth. I'm glad I finally got to see her amazing artwork and incredible story in a finished format and I can't wait for the next book!
Profile Image for Bill.
308 reviews24 followers
August 27, 2010
Perhaps my expectations for this book were too high, Visuals are interesting--and singular in style. But the whole never seemed to come together in any sort of unified way. I read several other GR reviews after finishing this, and many moaned about the lack of resolution at the end. I agree primarily because the memoir wasn't in any way set up to be 'resolution-less.' For me, the book came off as a rather unfocused wandering instead of an artfully constructed unfocused wandering. Rather disappointed when I came to the last page.
Profile Image for George Marshall.
Author 2 books76 followers
September 21, 2012
I love this book. At last, in the midst of the ramblings of 20-something arts graduates in Brooklyn a graphic memoir that speaks of family, home, history and real working class experience. It has a gentleness and subtlety that works, but is not without depth. Sure, it's real experience, but its a huge challenge to do do this well- and I think Carol triumphs. Compared with the truly dull Alan's War, this tells the real war story of comradeship, excitement and terror. Not recommended for people who want a page turning adventure yarn, but great if you want a slice of real emotional life.
Profile Image for Jason.
Author 2 books9 followers
February 7, 2011
The artwork in this book is great, and while the story does seem to wander at first, by the end C. Tyler weaves together the two main storylines perfectly (the connection between her trying to understand her father's past and trying to save her marriage), and sets us up for Book Two. Looking forward to the rest of this story.
Profile Image for Joanie.
1,285 reviews69 followers
July 27, 2012
Meh, not as good as I was hoping. It's hard not to compare this to Maus and find it lacking. A woman sets out to get to the bottom of her father's experiences during WWII and to learn more about what makes him tick. The stuff about the author's life and relationship was much more interesting than her dad's story. Maybe things improve in the subsequent books but I don't know if I can be bothered.
Profile Image for Molly.
1,025 reviews5 followers
August 24, 2009
Alison thank you for the recommendation. I can't wait for the next volume to come out. This really talks about something I have noticed soldiers proud of serving but never talking about it. This is interesting mixed in with her own life. Adult +
Profile Image for Nick.
678 reviews29 followers
August 9, 2009
Reading this graphic novel brought up a lot for me, especially a determination to try and find out more about my father's experiences during the Second World War. He died at age 66, well before most of the veterans of that war I know became ready/able to talk about the war.
Profile Image for Jamie.
Author 145 books102 followers
September 22, 2009
I found this somewhat unsatisfying. I know it says "Book One" on it, but it really doesn't stand up that well as a single volume. Or maybe I've just had my fill of comic book memoirs about daughters trying to figure themselves out by figuring out their fathers.
Profile Image for MariNaomi.
Author 34 books402 followers
December 27, 2010
This is so good that as soon as I finished it, I changed out of my PJ's, left my cozy little home, and went out in search of part 2. Great story, beautiful watercolors, and I'm riveted, I seriously am. Now I'm about to put my PJ's back on and read the next book. Stay tuned.
Profile Image for Megan.
2,132 reviews11 followers
March 12, 2013
I tend to find graphic novels lacking in depth. I miss exploring a text. However, Tyler manages to introduce a fairly typical story - no-good husband, reticent veteran father, moody teenaged daughter - and make it engaging.
Profile Image for Mandy.
1,161 reviews
January 14, 2010
if you're constantly reminding yourself that your dad is a good person, he probably isn't
Displaying 1 - 30 of 40 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.