I don’t generally read a lot of graphic novels. I used to read some now and again to stay on top of what I needed to order for my collection, but now I just get to read for pleasure. My son is a big fan of both graphic novels and manga, though, so I tend to keep an eye out for recommendations of books he might enjoy. Recently, a colleague recommended this book and I requested it without even reading the description. (She has never failed me before, and I didn’t think she was about to start anytime soon!) When the book came, I saw that the blurb by Raina Telgemeier said the book was “Heartbreaking and hopeful…” I decided to see what about the story might be heartbreaking and whether this story might be too mature. If my son had specifically asked for it, I might have handed it straight over without even noticing, but I figured it warranted a little look if I was giving him a recommendation.
As it turns out, Sunny was sent to spend the summer with her grandfather in Florida because her parents didn’t want her to have to deal with the fallout as they attempted to intervene and get help for her brother’s substance abuse problem. I definitely believe that books are a fantastic way to broach tough subjects, and I think this book did a superb job of letting readers figure things out both gradually and without too many unnecessary details. Though the story didn’t hold back, the storytelling [via words and illustrations] was both subtle and sensitive enough for somewhat younger readers. Though I initially got this book simply because it was another graphic novel from the author of the Babymouse series and came as a recommendation by a trusted colleague, I’m planning to use this book to jump-start [another] candid conversation with my fifth grader about drugs and alcohol.