True confession time: I’d never read a graphic novel before Hey, Kiddo.
But, of course, the first graphic novel I grab is a memoir that tackles super-heavy stuff like addiction, loss, and belonging. Because tights and capes are overrated.
I picked Hey, Kiddo specifically because it addresses addiction. I often wonder about how to talk to my own kid about recovery (I’ve been sober for 10 years). And I was eager to see if a graphic novel could stand up to the challenge of representing the ugly, heartbreaking side of having an active addict as a parent.
It did. And it was brutal.
But it was often hopeful. And funny.
I loved Jarrett’s emotional journey toward finding his peace with his family as-is. Because, addiction or not, we all have to reckon with the family we’ve been dealt. We can embrace their idiosyncrasies, forgive their faults, own our part in the whole giant mess, and love them anyway…or not. We can create our own families with friends we collect along the way. And, no matter who we are or how we grew up, we can break the cycle of abuse, addiction, neglect.
My ultimate takeaway (a pretty powerful one for teenagers reading this book): Your family contributes to who you are. They do not define you. They are part of your story. The beginning. Only you can decide what happens from there.
Hey, Kiddo is not always a happy story. But it’s a real story. I respect that.