Adrian and the Tree of Secrets by Hubert, Marie Caillou (Illustrated by)
September 9, 2014, Ship Date: August 18, 2014
Juvenile Fiction / Comics & Graphic Novels / General
Ages 12 to 18, Grades 6 And Up
Arsenal Pulp Press
Color illustrations throughout
This well-illustrated and thoughtful book is difficult to review, because the Kindle versions distorted the formatting. As a result, words jumped out of speech boxes in such a ways as to make it difficult to follow the story.
However, it was worth persevering with from the point of view of finding out how the author, with the single name of “Hubert”, handled a challenging story-line.
The blurb says “Adrian and the Tree of Secrets is a poignant, beautifully illustrated graphic novel about first love, growing up, and having the courage to be true to yourself”.
Rather than the usual story of boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, they fall out, then fall back in love again and everyone lives happily after, this “bittersweet” story is about Adrian, who is described as a nerdy teenaged boy who falls in love with Jeremy, the cool kid in school.
This being France, the twist here is that the boys are at a Catholic school where the principal thinks rumours Adrian is gay as a sign that he is “ill”. When cool-kid Jeremy takes the lonely Adrian under his wing (literally) in a tree hut, there can only be one outcome – the popular boy’s girlfriend spies them kissing – almost too predictably in the bike sheds – and tells the world.
The crux of the book is what happens next, so it would be unfair to go into too much detail. However, it is fair to say that Hubert does not spare the reader’s feelings in the concluding section.
The illustrations are by Marie Caillou, who studied fine arts in Strasbourg, France. The illustrations are spare in both their form and use of colour but at the same time manage to be evocative.
This is a thoughtful book that I would recommend.