cover image Sunshine


Jarrett J. Krosoczka. Graphix, $27.99 (240p) ISBN 978-1-338-35632-8; $14.99 paper ISBN 978-1-338-35631-1

This simultaneously uplifting and devastating graphic novel memoir, a follow-up to Krosoczka’s National Book Award finalist Hey, Kiddo, follows the creator’s 16-year-old summer working at a camp for kids with life-threatening illnesses. An adult Krosoczka pensively recollects the discussion he had with his grandparents about his decision to work at Camp Sunshine: “Isn’t it going to be depressing?” his grandmother asks. And while Krosoczka dispels her worries, the narrator admits he “had no idea what to expect.” Accompanied by five classmates and two irritable chaperones, the protagonist arrives at the camp and learns he’ll be providing one-on-one care for 13-year-old Diego, who has a progressive brain tumor and uses a wheelchair. He also develops a close bond with Power Rangers–obsessed Eric, who has leukemia. Grayscale panels are enlivened by a thematically appropriate sunshiny yellow, a skillful complement to depictions of Krosoczka’s teenage self engaging in conversations with the campers, who share their hopes and dreams, even while soberly recognizing that they may never reach those realities. Though the creator is unsparing in his raw depictions of the campers’ situations and his reverence when recalling these memories is palpable, he never condescends, always faithfully documenting the warmth and life-changing potential of confronting grief head-on and participating in communal care. Ages 12–up. (Apr.)