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Cover blurb (from Amazon): “Adrian isn’t very happy these days. He lives in a small town and goes to a Catholic high school. He wears glasses, secretly reads philosophy books, and wishes he had more muscles. He’s dogged by a strict mother, bullied by fellow players on the soccer field, and chastised by the school principal, who considers gay rumors about Adrian as a sign that he is “ill.” But Jeremy, the coolest kid at school, thinks otherwise; he takes Adrian on scooter trips, where they end up in Jeremy’s secret treehouse stealing kisses. Adrian finds himself falling in love, until Jeremy’s girlfriend rats them out, sending Jeremy into a tailspin of embarrassment for being different than the rest. What will become of him?”
I have to be honest with you- I don’t want to review this book.
Generally speaking, I try to provide balanced reviews. I always try to find both positive and negative things to say about any book I read. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all, right? However, there are a few things I’d like to point out about this graphic novel.
**Spoiler alert/sensitive content warning** I don’t want to review this book because I’m incredibly angry about the ending. ‘Adrian and the Tree of Secrets’ deals with homophobia, rejection and suicide. Adrian’s fate is left open to interpretation, but it certainly looked like suicide to me. Sadly, this outcome is all too common- here are some statistics and resources if you’re interested. I understand that this narrative might be realistic, but I don’t think it sends a good message. The ending is not only insulting, it’s demoralizing and dangerous.**
**Francisco Tirado, a reviewer on Lambda Literary, says “this book is perhaps five to eight years too late. It seems to exist pre-”It Gets Better Project”… It offers no real consolation and chooses to make an exposé of oppression, rather than offering a solution to a problem.” I couldn’t agree more. I’m not one to shy away from depressing realism. Unhappy endings have literary value. This book, however, is simply bleak. It seems to present suicide as an acceptable option, which is extremely troubling.**
The only high point for me is the art. Marie Caillou’s illustrations are beautiful.
‘Adrian and the Tree of Secrets’ is worth analyzing from a literary standpoint. As general fiction, though, skip it.
If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, please reach out for help.
U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255, or visit their website.
The Trevor Project (focuses on LGBTQ+): 1-866-488-7386, or you can chat online through their website.
For anyone outside of the U.S., please visit this site for resources in your country/language.