This autobiography in graphic form is a memorable book in some ways, but it is so overwhelmingly sad I can’t claim that reading it brought me any joy.
Craig grew up in poverty in rural Wisconsin with an evangelical mother and an emotionally abusive father, a school environment full of bullies, a sexually abusive babysitter, and teachers in religious school who berated his creativity as a distraction from worshipping God.
At church camp, he meets a girl, Raina, who seems like a soul mate. During the school year they bond further through phone calls and letters, and finally arrange for Craig to spend two weeks at her house in Michigan.
Long distance love turns into a doomed proposition however, and Craig is left once again alone to deal with the demons of his past.
Evaluation: After reading this graphic novel, I was utterly despondent. The drawings are often lovely, and evocative of emotional states, but Craig’s story is pretty tragic. So how do I rate it? It’s a memoir of a horrible abusive childhood with no great improvement later in life. It left me depressed. I guess I prefer books that leave me feeling happy (for whatever reason) after I have read them. This is not to say I can’t read sad books, but there must be something else – a superb musicality of language, perhaps, or a plethora of philosophical insights, that compensates.
Published by Top Shelf Productions, 2003