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The road to god knows... an Original Graphic Novel about Hope, Friendship, Mental Illness, Schizophrenia, and a Young Teenage Girl Coping with Her Life and Coming of Age in a Broken but Loving Family [Paperback]

Von Allan
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 10.87 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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Book Description

Oct. 8 2009
The road to god knows... is the story of Marie, a teenage girl coming to grips with her Mom's schizophrenia. As a result, she's struggling to grow up fast; wrestling with poverty, loneliness, and her Mom's illness every step of the way. Betty, Marie's Mom, can't help; she's living with an illness that's slowly getting worse and increasingly frightening, and she just doesn't have the resources left over at the end of the day to help Marie. With her Mom absorbed in her own problems, Marie is essentially alone while she learns to deal with the chaos in her young life. Marie's youth makes it that much harder for her to cope - as a teenager, she just doesn't have the life experience to feel confident about her decisions. At the start of the story, we see a scared young girl, uncertain and overwhelmed, but as Betty collapses into a full nervous breakdown, Marie is forced to examine herself and her life and come to a decision: does she continue to be a child, reacting to what's happening around her? Or does she take control of her life, come what may?

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There are all kinds of ways that this comic could have gone wrong, and Von managed to cut through it all and make an outstanding graphic novel. --Optical Sloth

The world needs more books like this. --Sequential Tart

Allan offers an empathetic glimpse at a realistic teen who doesn't rattle cages to seek help. --Library Journal (March 15, 2010)

Allan sensitively makes Marie the focus of her own story, never preaching to readers. --Booklist Online (January 1, 2010)

"The Road to God Knows..." is an intriguing and touching graphic novel with a unique art style, highly recommended. --Midwest Book Review (January 2010)

Allan is an optimist who strives to explore the human heart in all of its intricate complexity. --Small Press Book Reviews (December 28, 2009)

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, Real and Relatable Nov. 4 2009
"the road to god knows..." is a beautifully written, artfully rendered tale. Marie, the above mentioned young, teenage girl is a vulnerable protagonist. Marie is a welcome departure from the genetically gifted adolescents of cable network television. Author, Von Allan has opted instead to tell this story from the perspective of an adorably, average-looking girl.

The main story, involving Marie and her mother's schizophrenia is deftly garnished with slice-of-everyday-life subplots. Marie's passion for wresting. Her struggles to fit in at school. Her relationship with her best friend. Although it's graphic fiction, "the raod to god knows..." feels real. Not only in the writing, but in the nuanced illustration. I found myself lingering on certain panels, trying to absorb all of Allan's details.

In conclusion, a great read and a prized addition to my personal library!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Powerful Dec 17 2009
By Nicola Mansfield HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Summary: I think the author's own sub-title pretty much sums up the story: "an Original Graphic Novel about Hope, Friendship, Mental Illness, Schizophrenia, and a Young Teenage Girl Coping with Her Life and Coming of Age in a Broken but Loving Family".

Comments: This is Canadian Von Allan's first published book. It is an incredibly powerful story. Marie is a young teenager, 13 or 14, dealing with poverty, being teased at school, having only one friend (though a true best friend), parents who do not live together, and a mother who suffers from schizophrenia and keeps going into the hospital after breakdowns. Von Allen has captured this girl's immense range of feelings and especially shows it in his detailed b/w drawings. While the speech lacks a certain natural flow, especially between the two girls, it does tell the story well. The mother's love for her daughter comes through between her very different behaviours and there are two especially frightening scenes that shock the reader into seeing the full extent of this disease. It's hard to put a suitable age range on the book; there is some foul language and a nude scene plus of course the intense subject matter thus I would say 15+ but the book could be read by mature 13+ or those from similar backgrounds. The language and nude scene are not gratuitous but integral to the story.

The book really has no other plot than the day to day life of Marie coping to live with her mom and then being sent to stay with her dad when her mom is in the hospital. It's a look at a severe reality. But all is not bad as Marie does have a wonderful, understanding friend and the book explores the role of even just one friendship in a harsh life. The book does come to a very abrupt ending which is rather jarring but upon reflection one can see why it ends where it does. A worthy read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible graphics, real story Dec 13 2009
I absolutely loved this book. the graphics were incredible. I think my favourite part was the characters. They were real. I couldn't put it down. I spent so much time savouring the story, and pouring over the graphics. Highly recommended.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  12 reviews
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Meet Marie: The Road Warrior Oct. 15 2009
By KAE - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This small, beautifully illustrated graphic novel has a serious storm at its center, and a lot of light shining through the clouds. From its opening quote by Groucho Marx to its rainbow-in-a-moment on page 141, it will win your heart. The author has a rare gift for creating characters you'll feel like you've met--Marie the Road Warrior (salutin' her strength here--crystal clear in the picture of her striding down the street on the book's cover, lopsided ponytails swingin'), her mom, her best friend--and deftly captures the passage of time and flow of emotions (awkward dinnertimes, endless school days, absorbing teasing by classmates, trying to say things you just can't say) in really interesting ways. I don't think I've done this book justice with my comment here. I guess the best way to explain its impact is by saying: This is a book that I imagine will make many people--young teens and people decades past that--feel much less alone.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Important Road... Nov. 3 2009
By Mare Biddle - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Marie's story cuts across two very important conditions in life: adolescence and chronic illness. The first thread demonstrates the reality that our teenage years bring about adult responsibilities without true adult freedoms. We witness Marie struggling to make sense of her teenage world, and trying to protect her mom from others and herself. Marie attempts to navigate these issues without the benefit of adequate adult resources creating a state of near constant imbalance. The second thread highlights the conflict brought about by mental illness. Marie is forced to deal with her mother's (Betty) schizophrenia that carries not only a clinical diagnosis but also a societal moral judgment. The story arc here is well developed - plot points and conflict are intertwined with equal tension. Von draws "silence" artfully and clearly. Nice. I love that Von does not cheapen the ongoing struggle of this family by wrapping it all up with a bow. He offers readers the threads to weave together Marie's extended truth using their own narrative. The cover art is actually my favorite frame in the book. The detail of the "Lost Cat" sign on the light post sets a perfect tone. Beautiful work. Looking forward to Von's next book!
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Living With a Mentally Ill Parent Oct. 22 2009
By D. Scott - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
In this well-drawn book, Von Allen delicately crafts a household where we meet Marie, a teenage daughter who must learn to cope with her well-meaning and loving, yet schizophrenic mother Betty. Marie's day-to-day challenges living with Betty's mental illness and subsequent breakdowns are brought to life in a very meaningful and personal way by the author. Instead of simply becoming a victim, Marie learns to rise up and take control of her own situation and life amidst the chaos and instability of her family. Having had to deal with mental illness in my own family, I can say that this is a realistic, important work by a vibrant young author who should continue to make his mark in the years to come.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very deep and needed product! Oct. 15 2009
By M. Havet - Published on Amazon.com
I loved it! This is a medium that can reach so many more people of just about any age. Much more than a simple book can. A picture says a thousand words and this art is much more than pictures!. This art is in story form and it teaches about life. We learn from each other, our community, and networks. What about the hidden parts of life that are hard to look at? Bravo to Mr Von Allen for putting his considerable talent to suchLi'l Kids: "road to god knows..." adventures! an important cause! As a teacher and an addictions counsellor, I highly recommend this entertaining, yet educating product. I wish all young adults and my clients, and students would read this, I know they would not only enjoy reading this art, but enjoy relating to the life journey. A book has it's value, but is tedious and tends to be boring and preachy when dealing with this subject matter. Even a good book of this nature and I have some. They are NEVER accused of art, or entertainment value! LOL As far as graphic novels go this is quality stuff at a low price so enjoy this bargain for what it is! The road to god knows... an original graphic novel about hope, friendship, mental illness, schizophrenia, and a young teenage girl coping with her life and coming of age in a broken but loving family
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars shades of gray Nov. 16 2009
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
This excellent new and original graphic novel by the Canuck artist Von Allan, The Road To God Knows... is astoundingly poignant. And anyone familiar with my reviews knows that "poignant" is not a descriptive term I freely employ. But I was so thoroughly pulled into this story of young and gawky teenager Marie and her complicated relationship with her mother, Betty, that I read the work in one sitting and found myself thinking over its implications for a length of time afterwords. Such envelopment is for me, a true accomplishment.

The story opens with Marie and her mother returning home from the hospital, where the mother had just been discharged after a stay that concerned certain emotional problems. In true slice of life fashion, we learn so much about Marie's lonely world, stuck in the middle of her separated parents while failing to find acceptancel at school. Her salvation comes through her budding friendship with a neighbor girl, the two embarking on a money from-excessive-chores quest for the sole purpose of purchasing tickets to a rare but upcoming pro wrestling exhibition. Marie, awkwardly finding some levels of solace in the fandom hobby. Her interests in the pseudo-sport of professional wrestling, as well as in science fiction, all serve as distraction for the girl, desperate for an escape from the growing problematics of dealing with the psychologically damaged Betty. Betty means as well as any otherwise loving parent, but with the painfully realistic difficulties of struggling for control under the weight of Schizophrenia are seemingly beyond her own power, much less the coping abilities of her teenage daughter- who is already stuck in an embarrassing and frustrating age group. No easy solutions, and no outlets, beyond just silently going on.
This is indeed a very touching, very dramatic tale. Von Allan's dialogue is never at all unrealistic, and the everyday characters presented are fully-formed enough to cause the reader to wonder at what persons may have inspired such situational drama, such quietly desperate burdens. This is the kind of story that wonderfully, moodily, is all too real. Such a rich and honest portrayal of mental illness and the effects such can have on the many persons stuck in the tortured position of loving and/or living with the inflicted.
And the art is absolutely as effective, from smart page constructions sporting fluid faces and gestures to an appropriate pacing that intuitively slows down the camera whenever a forced introspection is dutifully beckoned from the story itself. This movie is shot in real time, with all of the world of nuances that the unbiased camera is always eager and willing to capture, beit for the amusement or judgment, of others. while the overall narrative is a sea of calm before the storm sensation, the few moments of violent action are called into vivid imagining with all the more clarity. And shock, like with ripples in the stillness of waters.

A fantastic and self-aware work, I am thankful in my own way to have come across it. Available through Von Allan's website as a free, downloadable pdf copy, as well as through the Amazons, I advise against going for the computer screen version alone however, as digesting a wholeheartedly brilliant book such as this will fully compel you to want to support the work more viscerally.
Most definitely one of the finest graphic novels of the year, I think.
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