The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman is a Pulitzer Prize winning graphic novel that tackles a big subject; the Holocaust. Spiegelman interviews his father Vladek Spiegelman and illustrates his history as a Jew during World War II.
Artie's relationship with Vladek is strained, especially since his mother's suicide. Vladek is now an old man with a new wife, who he can't stand. He requires more attention that Artie is willing to give, but they do find one way to bond. Artie wants to hear about Vladek's experience in Auschwitz and create a graphic novel based on his father's life. Vladek begins his story with how he met and fell in love with Artie's mother Anja. She came from a wealthy family and with her family's support, Vladek became a successful businessman. His standing in the community didn't protect him when the Nazis started moving Jews to ghettos and later concentration camps, but his connections and savvy helped him survive in deplorable conditions.Vladek triumphantly tells the story of one man fighting to survive and succeeding, but the tragedy of the Holocaust overshadows his victories and colors his life after Auschwitz and his relationship with his family.
Vladek's story is heartbreaking and the graphic novel format gives readers a more intimate glimpse of what life like, while creating a comfortable distance with the use of mice and other creatures to represent different peoples affected by the Nazi's rise to power.