Saturday, February 12, 2022

Saturday Morning Cartoons- Button Pusher

Page, Tyler. Button Pusher
March 15th 2022 by First Second
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

In this graphic novel memoir, Tyler often gets in trouble at school and at home for his impulsive behavior. He can't sit still in class, is often excessively goofy, and makes a lot of poor choices. His father is very volatile and often explodes in anger, but his mother tries to help Tyler  manage his school work. She eventually takes him to be assessed, and the doctor diagnoses him with Attention Deficit Disorder. Family counseling is recommended, and that helps a tiny bit, but Tyler is eventually put on the drug Ritalin. This seems to work, and is most noticeable when he doesn't take his medication. While things improve at school and Tyler is able to do better at his school work, make friends, and pursue some interests, his father's own ADD makes his relationship with the family fraught. The mother thinks about leaving him and moving back to her own family, but she can not bring herself to do this. After eight years on the medicine, Tyler decides that he doesn't need it any more, and is able to function in high school and college without it. 
Strengths: Tyler's experiences with attention deficit disorder and hyperactivity are explained in a very clear way. We see how hard it is for him to sit still in class, pay attention, and remember to do his work. His father's adult ADHD is also interesting, and there is mention of the father recieving medical treatment for it as well, although he isn't keen on it. The mother's involvement with the school and therapists is well done, and the notes from the doctors offer a good overview of how things are progressing. There are good historical details about the 1980s, and it's clear that we are not talking about modern methods for dealing with ADHD. Side bar graphics, in blue and white, offer some explanations of the medical terms (like executive fuction disorder) and treatments, which is very useful. 
Weaknesses: There are a lot of cultural references (video games, clothing styles), but it would have been helpful (since this is a memoir) for there to be a specific date. The author was born about 1977 and was put on Ritalin in 1985, so this takes place in the late 1980s. Since medications have changed, this would have been helpful information to have right up front. It is unfortunately common to not clearly state dates in graphic novel memoirs, perhaps to make the experience seem more timeless and universal? (Greene's A-Okay, Mericle's Bad Sister, Alexander's Other Boys)
What I really think: The inclusion of some medical explanations are helpful, even if the note says they are informational and shouldn't be used for diagnosis or treatment! There are always a number of students who take medication for ADHD, and this will speak more to those readers than Edwards' A Tale as Tall as Jacob: Misadventures with My Brother, since that was from the sister's point of view. Like Gerber's Focused, this is a helpful look at a condition that many middle grade readers experience, either for themselves, or through dealing with classmates who struggle with it. 

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