Title: The Thud
Author: Mikael Ross
Genre: YA Graphic Novels
Number of Pages: 128
Noel is a mentally disabled man in Germany whose mom has a stroke and goes into a coma. He gets sent to Neuerkerode (which is based on a real place), a community for people with developmental disabilities. He doesn’t understand his mom’s situation and he’s confused and scared in this unfamiliar setting, but with the help of other people he begins to find his footing and move forward.
The Thud is a tragicomic graphic novel based on the time the author spent in the real village of Neuerkerode. It was a slight book I read in one setting and I wasn’t as emotionally affected by it as I thought I would be. Sure, you can’t help but feel for Noel but the story itself feels insubstantial. The scenes focusing on Noel are accompanied by a side story about an elderly woman’s experiences during the Holocaust and I actually thought there should have been more scenes like that that took the reader out of the here and now.
Noel also had an epileptic girl who was really interested in him and her methods for getting his attention (lying to him, following him around, and being rough with him) were inappropriate, but treated as if they were harmless. She seemed like she was much more high-functioning than he was and I couldn’t help thinking if the genders were reversed the whole thing would be handled much differently. I did like the artwork and I enjoyed the way Noel’s character arc was subtle yet tangible. He never has a big ‘a-ha!’ moment but you gradually see him becoming more comfortable with his place in the world.