by John David Anderson, published 2019
“It’s hard, sometimes, reconciling the difference between what you really feel about something and what you think you’re supposed to feel.”
The angst of growing up is so well captured in the above quote from this children’s book about finding one’s own way. In this case, Rian has so many mixed feelings, though the clearest feeling is that he doesn’t belong in his very crazy family. Doesn’t every pre-teen child feel the same? In this case, the quirkiness of the family is exaggerated to the nth degree, partly to create middle-school humor, and partly to create the unfolding of the story of finding one’s way back home.
Along the way, the children’s book addresses the huge distance parents and children create between themselves, leaving the wreckage of relationships based on incorrect perceptions and assumptions. It can be quite tragic, and this book attempts to show the results, using an immense amount of humor and lightheartedness to avoid being dark and heavy.
I picked up this particular children’s book because I loved two others by the same authors: Ms. Bixby’s Last Day, and Posted. They are extraordinary books. This one started very slowly for me, and I would have given up if it weren’t for the admiration I have for the author. Then suddenly, halfway through the book, it all got very real and very interesting. I don’t know if kids will hang in there as readers, but if they do, it is worth the effort. Reconciliation between fathers and sons is the main theme, and it is worth tracking down.