Better Place by Duane Murray

5 stars Graphic Novel

My emotions were all over the place with this graphic novel.  It started out super sweet with a grandson and his granddad playing the parts of Red Rocket and Kid Cosmo, the grandson’s favorite comic heroes. Mom had had her father move in with them and the duo were creating their own real-life versions of the comic book duos adventures.  With granddad behind the shopping cart handle and grandson Dylan, helping with the navigation, they glide through the neighborhood saving the universe.  As a new kid, Dylan doesn’t know anyone so granddad is the perfect friend. 

Mother knows she should get granddad into a home since his recent diagnosis but granddad doesn’t want to go and they know that Dylan would be lost without him.  Then, there’s an incident with Dylan in the parking garage and later, they arrive back home to some emergency vehicles at their house.  Oh, granddad.  I wasn’t ready for what happened next but granddad is no longer in the picture. Instead of being honest with Dylan, she tells him that granddad went to a “better place.”  While mother deals with the loss of her father, Dylan begins another adventure looking for the “better place” so he can find his granddad.

I loved the relationship between Dylan and her granddad.  Even though his granddad was sick and didn’t act like a typical granddad, they had fun together and you could see how much they loved and appreciated each other.  Mother never really had time for Dylan at the beginning of the novel which I thought might change once her father died and left Dylan with no one but mom had her own emotions and issues surrounding her father’s death.  It’s quite emotional as both Dylan and his mother realize what granddad’s death means in their life.  They’ll need to start relying on each other.

The book did a great job of showing the emotions and difficulties that Dylan went through, whether he sailed or struggled through them.  I really enjoyed the illustrations. I feel there is something about the facial expressions in a graphic novel that bring the story to life and these were spot on.  With terrific details and the slightest use of color, this graphic novel is a winner.  5 stars