Book Review: Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka

Hey, Kiddo (National Book Award Finalist): Krosoczka, Jarrett J.:  9780545902489: Books

Title: Hey, Kiddo

Author: Jarrett J. Krosoczka

Genre: YA Memoir/ Graphic Novel

Number of Pages: 320

Rating: B

Recommended?: Yes

For most of his young life, Jarrett J. Krosoczka was raised by his grandparents because his mom was addicted to drugs. Hey, Kiddo tells the story of how Jarrett grew from a happy, gregarious little boy to a lonely, sullen teenager without ever really knowing his mom all that well.

His grandparents had their share of dysfunction (I’d actually go so far as to call his grandma downright unpleasant) but they tried their best to give him the best childhood they could. One of the things that struck me most about this graphic memoir was the enormous amount of love and forgiveness Krosoczka had for his family, including his mother.

The book makes the interesting stylistic decision to include real letters and postcards (like those written to the author from his mom when she was in rehab) and family photographs alongside the illustrations. The illustrations themselves might not be the most detailed, but they’re unique and have a remarkable amount of warmth.

I liked the authenticity of the letters and the photos and how naturally the author included them throughout the book. The storyline follows the author’s feelings of anger and disappointment towards his mom and his search for the dad who abandoned him before he was even born.

Personally if I had a dad I’d never even met because he left when my mom was pregnant with me I don’t think I’d want anything to do with him, but Krosoczka managed to form a tenuous bond with his dad and even with his half-siblings. The story is simultaneously sad and full of hope, highlighting that your family’s first and foremost about who is always there for you.

I sometimes had trouble telling the characters apart and the inclusion of different timelines and so many different family members was confusing. It also didn’t move me emotionally as much as some of the books I’ve read lately. It’s a good and worthwhile read but I wouldn’t necessarily call it unforgettable. I’m definitely interested in reading the author’s upcoming memoir (Sunshine) though.

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