Two middle grade/YA graphic memoirs

The eldest put these on my pile, saying «I think you should read these», and so I did. She found them at the library (probably the main branch in town, which is the one she visits most often).

Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett J. Kosoczka is a graphic memoir detailing Krosoczka’s childhood and youth. He is brought up by his grandparents, who «rescue» him from his mother who is a heroin addict. She flits in and out of his life for the duration of the book, but is never much of a mother. His grandparents are not flawless either, but do their best to raise him, love him, and to give him the chance to develop his talents as an artist. He only discovers his father’s name by accident, and it takes years before he seeks any form of contact, and then only because he’s looking for siblings rather than a father.

Hey, Kiddo is an understated tale of growing up with an unconventional family constellation, and how what we think we’re missing out on might not actually be missing, just present in a different way, and how the «families» we make for ourselves may more than make up for the ones we were dealt to start with.

The 12-year-old obviously enjoyed it as well, though she was… I was going to say shocked, but I think guiltily pleased is more accurate, at the not infrequent swearing. Needless to say that hardly shocked me, but they seem to be quite strict about «bad words» at school.

Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol is also a graphic memoir, but covers a much shorter time-period, namely summer camp (actually an amalgate of two consecutive summers, according to the author’s afterword). The story itself is… Well, I think Emma in this review on Goodreads summed it up well:

it’s a classic indoors-kid-goes-to-camp-and-hates-it-and-everything-is-terrible-but-then-she-likes-it-because-she-makes-a-friend-just-in-time-to-leave story. which, like, not my favorite trope? presumably no one’s favorite trope? just a lot of gross toilets and bugs and outdoor shenanigans.

But just like for Emma what rescues this book for me is Brosgol’s art. It draws you in and makes you live the story. I would, however, reccommend Anya’s Ghost over Be Prepared if you’ve never read Brosgol before. And Hey, Kiddo is going to stay with me for longer.

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