I know. One week after I spoke of my love for adventure and genre comics of all sorts, I pick an independent comic that’s a complete change of pace.
But The Road to God Knows by Von Allen definitely deserves the spotlight.
Marie is a teenage girl trying to cope with her mother’s schizophrenia. Not only must Marie fend for herself most of the time but the care of her mother often falls on her shoulders and she’s witness to her mother’s worst breakdowns. As an escape from all this, Marie and her best friend decide to do odd jobs around the neighborhood so they can earn enough money to buy tickets to the big pro wrestling event coming to town.
What Kids Will Like About It:
I would recommend this book for readers thirteen and older. For teens, Marie’s struggle will resonate whether they’re dealing with a problem as severe as she is or not. Marie’s uncertain about her place in life. She’s having trouble with the other kids at school and a hostile teacher. It’s the rare teen who doesn’t know what that feels like.
What I liked most is that despite her mother’s illness and all the problems that come with it, Marie is essentially an optimistic individual. She’s still capable of joy and having fun with her friend despite the uncertainty in her life. It’s a good message to anyone that it’s possible to survive the dark periods.
Just a quick note about content. There is a scene with implied masturbation and one scene that contains nudity. The nudity is used to emphasize the mother’s breakdown and it works very well within the story. I wouldn’t have a problem with letting my teenagers read this but I mention it in case my standards aren’t universal.
What Parents Will Like About It:
As a parent, it was interesting to see the struggle of caring for a sick, incapable adult from a teenagers point of view. Anyone who has a deep family secret or difficulties too private to reveal will feel Marie’s pain at being in her situation all alone. It’s a book where the emotions hit hard.
There’s a small three-panel close-up of Marie’s face just after her teacher has publicly castigated her for missing yet another day, a teacher who is ignorant or simply doesn’t care about her situation. Marie walks back to her desk, surrounded by the jeering laughter of her classmates and begins to cry. It feels like a literal punch to the gut.
About the Creator:
Von Allen’s mother was first diagnosed with schizophrenia when he was eleven years old. d Marie’s experiences with her mother in the novel are based on some of his real-life experiences.
And on a more geeky note, Allen credits Star Trek, Star Wars, and superheroes as helping to provide a place to focus his energy when growing up and dealing his family situation.