Hutchinson, Shaun David The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley, 288 p. Simon Pulse, 2015. Language: R (60 swears, 22 ‘f’); Mature Content: PG-13 (many mentions of a variety of subjects - nothing graphic); Violence: PG-13 (beating, someone set on fire, cartoon depictions of violence).
Drew is hiding from Death in the secrets placing of a sprawling hospital complex. Because it is summer, the sympathetic hospital workers accept him and he even has job in the cafeteria and friends in the pediatric cancer ward. In order to keep his emotions under control, he pours out his feelings into drawing a comic book about Patient F and his struggles against the Scythe. One night a badly burned young man has been brought into the emergency room - set on fire because he is gay. Drew is fascinated, because this young man reminds him of himself and Drew is also attracted to him. Rusty, the burn victim, is extremely vulnerable, but welcomes Drew’s presence and returns his affection - each in their damaged way. Drew has a painful journey, a metamorphosis that he must undergo and a confrontation with Death herself, if he wants any chance of sharing Rusty’s friendship and perhaps his love.
Yes, I know the content concerns are many. But for mature readers, this will touch their hearts. Hutchinson’s bold content choices are not throwaways, nor are they voyeuristic or titillating. Drew sucked me in and my heart bled along with his as his journey unfolded. I wanted to curl up with him in his hiding place and protect his dreams from evil. I love the epilogue in comic form. Don’t equate this with the “Red Band Society” tv show. There is much more depth here than that. I dare you to dismiss Drew as just a gay boy as you read his story.
HS - OPTIONAL (content). Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS