A Puff of Smoke

A Puff of Smoke


A moving, often very funny graphic memoir about what it is like to grow up with an illness that no one can diagnose.

When the headaches started, Sarah Lippett would stand alone on a different side of the playground from the other children. When she started to drag one of her legs, her parents took her to hospital, and so began the visits to many different doctors, each one more bewildered by her illness than the last. Initially schooled at home, when Sarah went back to school she was placed with the struggling kids, and still so often ill, she felt even more alone.

But although Sarah's parents often despaired of the stream of appointments and no cure, they never showed it and she grew up in the midst of a boisterous, loving family and found good friends at last, as well as venturing into bands, art, boys, books and records. Finally, when Sarah turned sixteen, she was admitted to Great Ormond Street Hospital where the doctors diagnosed her with the rare disease, Moyamoya. The book ends with Sarah waking up after brain surgery.


  • If this doesn’t make you cry, you may be a robot rather than a human beingBut there is joy here, too, and not only in [Lippett’s] wonderful illustrations. As those who loved her first book, Stan and Nan, will know, she is so deft when it comes to the details of time, place and family life… She can also be very droll… [A Puff of Smoke] is deeply affecting – and not a little chastening, too.
    Rachel Cooke, Observer, *Graphic Novel of the Month*

About the author

Sarah Lippett

Sarah Lippett is a London-based artist and author. Her first graphic novel, Stan and Nan, was awarded the Quentin Blake prize for best narrative at the Royal College of Art and was published by Jonathan Cape in 2016, becoming an Observer book of the year. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the Guardian, and Time Out. When she’s not drawing or writing, she plays bass in the band Fever Dream.
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