Linn, Laurent Draw the Line, 516 pages. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2016. $17.99. Language: R (165 swears, 27 “f”); Mature Content: PG-13; Violence: PG-13.
Adrian Piper has made being invisible into an art form. He keeps mostly to himself, even with his two close friends and family, and only fully expresses himself through his artwork. He lives out his hopes & dreams vicariously through his beautifully-drawn superhero and alter ego, Graphite. As the story unfolds, Adrian is drawn into a bullying situation that requires him to adopt Graphite’s heroic traits and take a closer look at who he wants to be in the real world. His transformation is depicted through his widening social circle, and increasing, but reckless bravery.
The protagonist, Adrian Piper, embodies every awkward emotion and reaction many youth feel as they stumble toward maturity. His geek culture references and self-doubt will make the reader smile and empathize. The reader gets to follow Adrian through his mortifying journey coming of age, while simultaneously coming out.
I found that I could relate to his cringe-worthy vulnerability and was rooting for him to defeat his enemies, “get the guy,” and live happily ever after. The verbal and physical bullying is both horrifying and painfully accurate, though some behavior plays more as stereotypical. His fanciful artwork reflects his internal struggles & triumphs throughout the story. His sweet first romance includes awkward sexual situations and R-rated language that fit the tumultuous Texas high school setting of the book. This aspect of the story will be off-putting and uncomfortable for many teen & adult readers. The author’s handling of the sexual situations is realistic to the point of discomfort. Still, Draw the Line is the perfect book for a young man who is struggling with similar issues and who needs a strong realistic champion to help him navigate high school in a regrettably somewhat hostile climate. This is an advisable, even essential read for the right audience.
HS - OPTIONAL. Reviewer: Stacee S. Reading Teacher