Shaye Areheart, 2006 (2006)
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Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto
is a novel like no other. While neither the story nor Kuhlman's writing style breaks new ground, the author presents in a fresh way by incorporating comics illustrated by Brendon and Brian Fraim.
fter the accident that killed Stephen's older brother Francis, his family copes with death in different ways. His mother suppresses her grief until it almost controls her. His father spends his days holed up in his shop - no longer building anything, just sitting. His would-be sister-in-law drops out of college, and his younger sister thinks running away to join Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch is the answer.
tephen deals with his own feelings in a more constructive way – he creates a comic book with the help of his best friend/girlfriend/next-door neighbor. Through the graphic alter-ego of
, Stephen is able to get his feelings out on paper in a world where things can be better than his life currently is. Along the way, however, his writing helps him come to accept his brother's death and finally to realize that he can move on.
hile Stephen is the protagonist in
, Kuhlman frequently jumps around to other characters, weakening the reader's relationship with the main character. However, Stephen's comics make this novel a very interesting read. Instead of just reading about what Stephen is planning for his super hero, we actually get to see his ideas through the Fraims' artwork that accompanies Kuhlman's words.
could easily fit in with any Marvel superhero, with his humanity and imperfect powers. By the time the novel ended, I began to wish that
was a real graphic novel so that I could continue following his adventures.
he use of a graphic subplot should not deter readers who do not enjoy comic books. The illustrated story only takes up about ten percent of
leaving plenty of text for readers who prefer their literature un-illustrated. The comics only help to explain Stephen's way of coming to terms with his brother's untimely death.
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