the road to god knows ... by Von Allan (Canada ) - (US)
Pages: 141 pgs.
Finished: Dec. 16, 2009
First Published: Oct. 2009
Genre: YA, graphic novel, realistic fiction
"Has it b-been only a few days..?"
Acquired: Received a review copy from the author and passing it on to the next panelist.
Reason for Reading: A Cybils Award nominee.
Summary: I think the author's own sub-title pretty much sums up the story: "an Original Graphic Novel about Hope, Friendship, Mental Illness, Schizophrenia, and a Young Teenage Girl Coping with Her Life and Coming of Age in a Broken but Loving Family".
Comments: This is Canadian Von Allan's first published book. It is an incredibly powerful story. Marie is a young teenager, 13 or 14, dealing with poverty, being teased at school, having only one friend (though a true best friend), parents who do not live together, and a mother who suffers from schizophrenia and keeps going into the hospital after breakdowns. Von Allen has captured this girl's immense range of feelings and especially shows it in his detailed b/w drawings. While the speech lacks a certain natural flow, especially between the two girls, it does tell the story well. The mother's love for her daughter comes through between her very different behaviours and there are two especially frightening scenes that shock the reader into seeing the full extent of this disease. It's hard to put a suitable age range on the book; there is some foul language and a nude scene plus of course the intense subject matter thus I would say 15+ but the book could be read by mature 13+ or those from similar backgrounds. The language and nude scene are not gratuitous but integral to the story.
The book really has no other plot than the day to day life of Marie coping to live with her mom and then being sent to stay with her dad when her mom is in the hospital. It's a look at a severe reality. But all is not bad as Marie does have a wonderful, understanding friend and the book explores the role of even just one friendship in such a harsh life. The book does come to a very abrupt ending which is rather jarring but upon reflection one can see why it ends where it does. A worthy read.