#HylandersRead Book of the Month: “The Thud”

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“The Thud” by Mikael Ross was the #HylanderReads Book of the Month for September at Columbia Heights High School.

“The Thud” is a graphic novel told from the perspective of Noel, a developmentally disabled young man, as he navigates the challenges of friendship, romance, and losing his mother. When Noel’s mother has a stroke and falls into a coma, he is forced to move and live with another family until his mother wakes up. In this new city, Noel has a hard time finding someone that understands him and what he is going through. While it’s clear that the new people in Noel’s life have challenges of their own, it is also clear that although Noel is willing to help them face their own obstacles, nobody offers to help Noel face his.

One thing that I really like about this graphic novel is that not only does it have a lot of playful elements like the unique visual style, humor, and color scheme, but Mikaël Ross also does a great job at incorporating a lot of darker topics into the storyline as well, all the while making them important to the plot and not just another attention-grabbing element. The story includes themes of swearing, sex, mental illness and disability, divorce, and self-harm. This really stands out to me because I, personally, have never read a graphic novel that has dealt with such mature themes before, and I think the way Ross does it is really impressive. 

Something that I don’t like as much about the novel was that it is a little hard to follow  at times—the only relationship that is clearly defined is between Noel and his mother; nobody else is identified as being siblings, parents, friends, etc., which is a little confusing. The way the dialogue was written is also hard to understand during certain panels, but perhaps Ross intended it to be that way to give readers a clearer understanding as to how Noel perceives the world. 

Overall, it is still a quick read, and Ross manages to pack a lot of content into “The Thud”; some of it being fun and light-hearted, and some of it being really gritty, serious material. If you’re looking for something that will take you on an emotional rollercoaster, “The Thud” is a read that will open your eyes to new perspectives and help you explore and understand aspects of the world not typically shown in young adult literature.