Decodependence: A Romantic Tragicomic (Paperback)
Author and New Yorker cartoonist Lila Ash’s vulnerable and funny graphic memoir about her attempts to decode her life's relationships through the lens of her recovering codependency.
Through her skillful, charming illustrations and a voice that is sardonic, vulnerable, and completely relatable, Lila Ash shares the all-too-well-known moments that she’s experienced navigating the world of family, love, and sex through the lens of codependency.
In her late twenties, Ash found herself reliving the relationship traumas of her past. She’d tried everything to help herself move on from painful memories, from therapy to drugs and more, before entering Codependents Anonymous (CoDA), where she discovered the characteristics of codependency—and checked off every box. Ash began drawing her way through her experiences, allowing herself to recognize the codependent behaviors that ruled her life, including:
- How her desperation to get a boyfriend propelled her to be sexually active at summer camp as a young teenager (codependents often confuse sexual attention for approval or acceptance).
- Having a crush on her guitar teacher only to later realize that he had ulterior motives (codependents struggle with setting and maintaining boundaries).
- Accepting the role of personal assistant rather than girlfriend in her recent long-term relationship (codependents have trouble accepting when prospective love interests are unavailable).
- And much more
Through unflinchingly honest (and sometimes sad or harrowing) stories, a wry sense of humor, and illustrations that masterfully set the book’s tone, Decodependence: A Romantic Tragicomic will resonate with readers who are looking to better understand their own potential codependent relationship behaviors, followers of Ash's popular Instagram account, or fans of graphic novelists and cartoonists like Liana Finck, Aline Crumb, Emily Flake, Katy Fishell, Malaka Gharib, and Olivia de Recat.
Lila Ash is a Los Angeles–based freelance cartoonist, illustrator, and regular contributor to the New Yorker. She has been featured in Lena Dunham’s Lenny Letter, Wired, MAD, The Washington Post, The American Bystander, and The Weekly Humorist. She created a brilliant set of online comics based on real women’s harrowing #MeToo stories as well as other works honoring social justice causes. Ash is featured in Send Help! A Collection of Marooned Cartoons by Jon Adams and Ellis Rosen, a compilation of New Yorker cartoonists.
“Those looking to better understand codependent behavior will benefit from Ash’s story and enjoy wry chuckles along the way.”
“This book is heroically honest, achingly relatable, deeply hopeful, and still, somehow, funny. I wish I’d had it on my bedside table at every stage of my own codependent life. A must-read for anyone who's ever turned to Cher Horowitz for dating advice; been broken up with over AIM; or lived with cockroaches (literal and metaphorical) for far too long.”
—Emma Allen, New Yorker cartoon editor
“Lila Ash’s world overflows with familiar, lived-in details: band shirts, billboards, the awkward body language of new intimacy. We would follow her anywhere. When she begins to confess, with unflinching honesty, we don’t just want to listen; we are riveted.”
—Jason Adam Katzenstein, New Yorker cartoonist and author of Everything is an Emergency
“This is no ordinary heartbreak, and Lila Ash is no ordinary artist. This clear-eyed, brutally honest memoir knocked my socks off—if you’ve ever suffered the twin contortions of heart and brain that happen at the intersection of romance, toxic relationship behavior, and mental health, this book is for you.”
—Emily Flake, author and New Yorker cartoonist
“Lila Ash explores with insight, wit, and considerable drawing skill what it takes to become a reasonably happy, or at least functional adult. Although her memoir is about codependency, it also applies, in many ways, to all of us.”
—Roz Chast, New Yorker cartoonist
“Lila Ash does an excellent job in bringing her personal story to the complex issues around codependency and illustrating those dynamics in creative and humorous ways. In Decodependence, readers will gain useful insight and also laugh in the process.”
—Jessica Baum, LMHC and author of Anxiously Attached: Becoming More Secure in Life and Love
“Lila Ash brings her characteristic bright, masterful illustrations to a highly relevant subject matter. She tackles co-dependency with a mixture of humor and authenticity that makes the reader feel like they were present as her experiences unfolded. Her graphics adeptly set the mood each step of the way, making Ash the perfect guide for this moving story.”
—Ginny Hogan, author of Toxic Femininity in the Workplace
“Ash doesn’t document the world she sees. She documents the worlds she creates. From the deeply intimate spaces inside of her to the people and places she brushes up against, each story, each drawing invites us into a place that is full of beauty, heartbreak, and, most of all, honesty.”
–Walter Thompson-Hernández, author of Compton Cowboys
“Lila’s work is a direct extension of herself, inviting readers into the most intimate aspects of her life as she tackles the difficult and seldom discussed topic of codependency through beautifully rendered imagery and funny, raw writing. Lila's voice leaps off the page as she shares stories that are so honest and relatable, making you feel as if you've just found a new friend and confidant at a party filled with strangers.”
—Katy Fishel, creator and author of Sex is Weird