Desperate. Funny. Dark… I think that says it all. Read it!
Genre: Y/A, Contemporary, GLBT
No. of pages: 297
Andrew Brawley was supposed to die that night. His parents did, and so did his sister, but he survived.
Now he lives in the hospital. He serves food in the cafeteria, he hangs out with the nurses, and he sleeps in a forgotten supply closet. Drew blends in to near invisibility, hiding from his past, his guilt, and those who are trying to find him.
Then one night Rusty is wheeled into the ER, burned on half his body by hateful classmates. His agony calls out to Drew like a beacon, pulling them both together through all their pain and grief. In Rusty, Drew sees hope, happiness, and a future for both of them. A future outside the hospital, and away from their pasts.
But Drew knows that life is never that simple. Death roams the hospital, searching for Drew, and now Rusty. Drew lost his family, but he refuses to lose Rusty, too, so he’s determined to make things right. He’s determined to bargain, and to settle his debts once and for all.
But Death is not easily placated, and Drew’s life will have to get worse before there is any chance for things to get better.
When I first read the synopsis, I wasn’t entirely sure about reading this novel, but seeing the great reviews, and after some umming and erring, I finally picked it up. ‘The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley’ was a dark horse and has become one of my favorite GLBTQIA+ reads.
At first I found this frustrating – like, how could a kid go unnoticed living in a hospital? I wondered if he was imagining things and this was some sort of dream. Then I wondered if he was actually suffering some sort of mental illness… but as it turned out ‘The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley’ was much grittier. And real. Well, as the title alludes to – these are our protagonist’s journey through the five stages of grief.
Interspersed between chapters were parts of Drew’s comic book ‘Patient K, – which was a symbolic telling of Drew’s innermost psyche – dark, entertaining and poignant.
His friendships with the staff and patients is endearing, as is Drew himself. He is a loving, gentle soul who carries the weight of some major tragedy (or sin) along with him. He haunts the corridors of Roanoke General like a ghost – the only survivor left of his family.
Once you get past the half way mark the story really starts to open up – much like a tree spreading its roots in many different directions. It was a true marvel to read – Shaun David Hutchinson is a genius. His writing style is colorful, edgy and magnificent. I could not describe how jealous I was at how he expressed Drew’s thoughts in words. I became an instant fan!
Highly recommend you add this title to your collection 🙂
Overall feeling: Parts of my brain were applauding, other parts exploding…
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