Wounds heal — emotional, physical — of course, scarring occurs but ultimately with time, people get better. In an effort to make sense of his world, Andrew Brawley hides out in the hospital where he last saw his family alive. Guilt grounding him in place, he is stagnant and broken and immobilized by a fear of death, who stalks the hallways Andrew calls home. His sketchbook his constant companion and a story about Superhero Patient F, which while cathartic fails to console him without an ending.
It would be remiss of me not to mention how Christine Larsen’s illustrations interspersed throughout the story, despite how devastating they are and bloody violent, make their own statement to just what exactly is missing from Andrew’s life and to the severity of his denial. Comic panels of insight that really do document five stages — The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley.
Andrew’s running and running and although he has made friends, and promises to keep them safe, death catches up to them. He lives in a hospital afterall.
Love fights to forgive. Faith fights for hope. Andrew fights these concepts because he feels underserving, unaware that the beauty of grace is that it makes life unfair (Relient K ). And it really is awful when Andrew comes back to reality and faces everything he’s charged himself with. The brilliance of his unraveling due to Shaun’s sensitive handling of the memories, the influence of others’ pain and the stretching pull of humanity’s need to be loved and loved in return.
There are moments that tear you open and pierce your core. Statements of agonized pain felt so deeply that your bones ache for the profound truth that bites and burns and sears its way onto your heart. Revelations spoken of a short-lived relief from the agony of being different to being judged and juried by your peers so much so that every day is torture and the very thought of living one day more a hellish prospect — these hardly seem like the makings of a redemptive story and yet, Shaun twists, bends, and turns his words into masterful cuts of a reflective whole formed from cracked, stained souls but each one ever so beautiful.