Graphic Novel Review 113/365: Adrian and the Tree of Secrets

Please keep up with all of my old Graphic Novel Reviews here as I quest for 365 in 365 days!  Or hit up #GN365 on Twitter.

I’m going to try my best this week to bring you some books that capture America’s social situation.  What does that mean?  I’m not sure, but let’s read together this week, and maybe by next Sunday night, we will have a better understanding and maybe even a Twitter chat if you all want.

Title: Adrian and the Tree of Secrets 

Author(s): Humbert and Marie Caillou

Publisher: Arsenal Pulp Press (2014)

Age Rating: 17+

Adrian and the Tree of Secrets is a title that I discussed in a blog post in 2015.  Here is an excerpt from that post:

“…It’s a book about an intelligent high school boy that’s dealing with his sexuality, and when he finds another boy similar to him, and they get found kissing, the stuff hits the fan. It’s not the best book I’ve read on the topic; it’s good, but I don’t know if I’d order 32 copies for my classroom. But! Even before my run in at the estate sale today, I had a moment where I contemplated the teaching of that book and how it would not only make certain students uncomfortable, but it might even anger parents.

Let me say this right now…the book is innocent. The drawings are simple, and the only bit of nudity is a very small portion of bare butt while one of the boys gets ready to jump into the shower at school after gym class. And nothing really on the language front to worry about here, especially for seniors. Just thematically. There is a part when the boys are kissing that one of the boy’s hands begins to drift south, but the other boy stops him, and nothing happens.

I’ve seem much more questionable material at high school speech competitions, in books that are in the cannon, and during high school plays. This book would not make the inappropriate list compared to some of the things we perform and read at the senior level. Heck, Ronell and I talk about the craziness that is Brave New World all the time!

So what’s the big deal? The big deal is that in 2015, while there is no defending racial bigotry in our society, although it still exists, and some people do strongly believe that it’s OK, there is still a much larger collective that is robustly fighting for anti-LGBT rights and support. I’ve never been one to tell rational people how to think or feel, but having liberal friends and teaching in a fairly liberal community, the story of two boys finding love in each other does not faze me, the story is beautiful and touching (it’s not the content that would keep me from ordering the copies for the classroom, it’s the story-telling, but another time for that), but I know it may affect members of the community.”

I wrote that back in 2015, and if you want to read the entire post, please click here.  Two years ago I was discussing the idea of race, sexuality, and its affect on our communities in response to a visit that I had to an estate sale.  As I read this now in 2017 (really close to 2018), I feel even further irritated with all that is happening in our country.  Groups of people on the verge of losing rights that they once had.

I know now that I was a bit harsh on the story in my original post, but as I’ve read the book again and have had students read and review it in my classroom, I’m starting to understand its power: the ending.  The ending of this book is thoughtful and without closure.  I embrace it much more now than I did two years ago.

If you are reading with me during this “American Social Situation” week, I hope you seek out a copy of Adrian and the Tree of Secrets and let me know what you think.  And please forgive my title for the week…it’s bad, but it’s Tuesday, so we are stuck with it.

Happy reading!

Eric

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