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Mark Kneece & Julie Collins-Rousseau – Trailers

August 28, 2015

49. Trailers by Mark Kneece & Julie Collins-Rousseau (2005)

Length: 160 pages
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Graphic Novel, (older) Young Adult

Started/Finished: 08 August 2015

Where did it come from? The library.
Why do I have it? Random browsing.

High school is hard for
a poor kid even without
a body to hide.

Summary: Josh’s life is a mess, and no matter how he tries, other people insist on messing it up for him. He lives in a trailer park with his mom, who is dealing drugs and frequently leaves him alone to take care of his three younger siblings while she is being pimped out by her ex-convict boyfriend. She also killed her ex-boyfriend during a domestic struggle, leaving Josh to hide the body in the woods. But the body won’t stay hidden, everyone in the trailer park seems to know about it, and Josh is just waiting for the other shoe to drop, which makes it hard for him to do things like stay on top of his schoolwork, or have a normal relationship with Michelle, a cheerleader who he might kind of like, but doesn’t dare let into the mess of what his real life is like.

Review: Wow. I’m having a hard time putting my thoughts about this book into words. It’s not perfect – there were some parts that I thought didn’t work as well as they could have, and I didn’t always love the artwork – but it was still a potent reminder of what graphic novels can *do*. It’s dark – that should have been unsurprising, given the cover art – but even so, I wasn’t expecting it to be as bleak as it was, or to affect me as much as it did. Josh is not a perfect kid – he’s broken and puts up walls and is not great at problem solving and resorts to violence too easily – but he is a product of his environment, and he is very clearly doing the best he can with what he has, which is very little. I think what affected me the most is the realization that, while Josh is fictional, there are many, many real kids in similar situations (maybe minus the dead body rotting in the woods), and while the book ends on a hopeful note for him, I’m not entirely convinced that he really has broken the cycle of poverty and neglect, nor that his solution is practical for most real-life kids in similar circumstances. And that sense of hopelessness and futility was really, really heartbreaking. This was shelved in the teen graphic novels section of the library, which on some levels, I sort of questioned – there is violence, drugs, sex, and swearing in abundance. But on the other hand, there are a lot of teens that – like Josh – have had to grow up too fast, and I think it’s unrealistic to deny that and important to have their experience represented in the available reading material, both for their sakes, and as a reminder for those of us who grew up more privileged. 4 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: This book is kind of the anti-Raina Telgemeier look at teen life – no bright colors or smiling faces in Josh’s world. It’s not exactly an enjoyable read, but it is an affecting one, and one that’s well worth picking up if you like graphic novels with a darker edge – or if you need to be shaken a little bit out of a happy-endings bubble.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Other Reviews: I couldn’t find any at the Book Blogs Search Engine, which kind of surprised me. Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

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