Gr 10 Up – It’s a rare memoir that immediately engages and builds a story of family dysfunction that is as startling and heartbreaking as it is imaginative. It spans the youth of six-year-old Travis, an inquisitive, dreamy child who spends his time drawing and playing with his siblings while shuttled between homes and forced to tip-toe around a drunken stepfather, a volatile biological father (Dave), and a codependent mother. As Dave slips further into the grips of heroin addiction, Dandro focuses on Travis’s relationships with relatives and schoolmates to show how he builds resilience while he is repeatedly uprooted from his homes. As Travis matures, so does his understanding of his father’s demons. What makes this compelling story doubly affecting are the subtle, authentic glimpses of reality as seen through a child’s point of view. Dandro captures Travis’s musings through clever renderings, such as Travis’s nightmare of being kidnapped by an enraged Dave, which melds into the real-life newsreel of the notorious Adam Walsh kidnapping in the 1980s. The less frightening but no less poignant detailing of the walls and fixtures of Travis’s grandparents’ houses convey the function and fluidity of memory.
VERDICT: This painful but rewarding read about family dysfunction belongs in all libraries’ graphic novel collections.