HEY KIDDO: How I Lost My Mother, Found My Father, and Dealt with Family Addiction by Jarrett Krosoczka. New York: Graphix, 2018. 305p. ISBN 978-054590248-9 pbk. $14.99. Gr. 7-12 921KR Y.A.
Some kids are saved by music; some by reading or caring for animals. Jarrett was saved by drawing. His attachment to art could explain why his autobiography is also a graphic novel. As the subtitle implies, Jarrett's childhood experience is commonplace today, but still needs to be told. Jarrett was born to a single mom with a drug problem that led to stealing, dealing, and inability to hold down a job. Within a few years, it became apparent that the grandparents needed to take custody of Jarrett, with help from his aunts who were still in high school. Although Jarrett didn't find out all the facts of his parentage until he was also in high school, or that his mom had been in and out of jail for years on drug charges, he felt the absence of his biological parents. He was very aware of the generational differences between his grandparents and his friends' parents. While his mother popped in and out of his life, his grandparents were always there for him, encouraging his ambitions with art classes and good schools. In spite of the angst that accompanies teenage years, Jarrett finally tracked down his father and tried to accept a new relationship with the man who denied his existence from birth. Jarrett's artwork effectively conveys his emotional journey through the first 18 years of his life with a balanced color palette of sepia and gray panels laid out in readable order. It's a game-changer!
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI