This lengthy but fast-moving graphic novel is a contemporary coming-of-age story set in the rural mid-west. The story centers on Craig, a lonely, sensitive boy growing up with his younger brother Phil in a Christian fundamentalist family. Craig’s childhood centers on home, school and church, and all are austere and forbidding places for him. Cowed by his father’s harsh discipline, the strict teachings of his church and the bullies at school who target him because of his small frame and family’s modest circumstances, he matures into young adulthood undaunted by circumstance, drawing strength from his artistic talent and a first love. Loosely based on the author’s life.
In telling his story, which includes beautifully rendered memories of the small brutalities that parents inflict upon their children and siblings upon each other, Thompson describes the ecstasy and ache of obsession (with a lover, with God) and is unafraid to suggest the ways that obsession can consume itself and evaporate. — The New York Times