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Review: Hey Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka

Title: Hey Kiddo
Author: Jarrett J. Krosoczka
Year Published: 2018

Genre: YA memoir (graphic novel)
Pages: 301
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location (my 2018 Google Reading map)USA (MA)

FTC Disclosure: I bought this book with my own money

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): In preschool, Jarrett Krosoczka's teacher asked him to draw his family with a mommy and a daddy. But Jarrett's family as much, much more complicated than that. His mom was an addict, in and out of rehab and in and out of Jarrett's life. His father was a mystery--Jarrett didn't know where to find him, or even what his name was. Jarrett was living with this grandparents--two very brash, very loving, very opinionated people who had thought they were through with raising children...until Jarrett came along.

Now Jarrett's a teenager. He's gone through his childhood trying to make his non-normal life as normal as possible, finding a way to express himself through art despite the fact that he's grown up in a house where many things have remained unsaid. It's only when he's old enough to have his driver's license that Jarrett can begin to piece together the truth of his family--reckoning with his mother, tracking down his father, and finding his own identity.

Review: I've been hearing quite a bit about this book and am so glad I read it now, not waiting to see if it's a finalist for the CYBILS (I'm a round 2 judge for graphic novels). 

The author's story is poignant: heroin addicted mother, absent father and I think it's important for teens (and adults) to hear that that there are all sorts of families out there. He had the advantage of grandparents who raised him with love, compassion, and support. As a single parent, I love that my parents live in the same house as us; it has made for a rich upbringing for my daughter and I have had tremendous support all these years.

This coming of age memoir is good in its telling of the power of art, friendship, teacher support, and belief in ones self. While we hear of his mother's bad decisions and behaviors, they do not dominate and we see that the author's passion for drawing is supported by those around him. 

I also loved the Author's Note at the end (you know I love those in general) where he explains the origins of the artwork for the chapter pages, the artifacts he incorporated, and why he chose the burnt orange color of the illustrations (burnt orange is the color of his grandfather's pocket square).

This is a truly personal story with a wider appeal.

Challenges for which this counts: 

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