The Road to God Knows... an Original Graphic Novel about Hope, Friendship, Mental Illness, Schizophrenia, and a Young Teenage Girl Coping with Her Lif by Von AllanThe Road to God Knows... an Original Graphic Novel about Hope, Friendship, Mental Illness, Schizophrenia, and a Young Teenage Girl Coping with Her Lif by Von Allan

The Road to God Knows... an Original Graphic Novel about Hope, Friendship, Mental Illness…

byVon AllanIllustratorVon Allan

Paperback | October 8, 2009

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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?
Title:The Road to God Knows... an Original Graphic Novel about Hope, Friendship, Mental Illness…Format:PaperbackDimensions:148 pages, 8.5 × 5.5 × 0.34 inPublished:October 8, 2009Publisher:Von Allan StudioLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0978123700

ISBN - 13:9780978123703

Appropriate for ages: 10 - 10


Rated 5 out of 5 by from an amazing debut It offers an understated but poignant tale of strained adolescence, depicting a young woman coping with the her mother’s schizophrenia. It’s as simple as that, nothing sensational, or self-helpy, no great revelations, just a series of painstaking and loving details of days in a girl’s life. The dialogue is character driven, lusciously breaking all kinds of narrative rules in order to draw you into the difficult moments of a person’s life, at an age when expression and disclosure are choked. And that is the beauty of the story—the empathic tension we feel watching from the camera eye, unable to reach out and help. You aren’t reading a graphic novel, you are viewing the highlights of a spy-cam; the frames and sequences seek to direct your psychological and heartfelt discovery of this tale. I found Mr. Allan’s work on the internet before there was a paper edition, and it was the art that drew me in. Well, no, to be accurate, it was that damned perfect title that caught my attention. Breezing through some artwork hooked me. I mention this because I am not sure how to describe it. Everything that comes to mind sounds like backhanded compliment or criticism, and it isn’t. This black and white work is brilliant, emotive and evocative. And as someone who recognises the artist’s inspiration for settings and locales, the drawings are great on a purely technical level(I warmly recognise all manner of places). It’s really worth a redundant gush, because I read an interview with the author in Ottawa’s newspaper, The Citizen, describing how Mr. Allan came to drawing later than most, and was constantly told to give it up, that “he sucked”. I can’t speak to his growth as an artist, just the power of his work in this story. The style is realistic, foregoing so many available graphic narrative techniques available for the medium, and so the challenge is, technical. For a self-taught artist, self-admittedly challenged, to choose direct representation, rather than cartooning, exaggeration, surrealism, etc. demonstrates a discipline, dedication and vigour. I can see the flaws, flattened perspectives, unnatural feeling angles in bodies at times, and somehow magically they aren’t flaws. I can’t say anything about intention. Some aspects of art are planned, some well up from the sub-conscious, and some are accidental bonuses. What I can say, is the level of detail, the grey-shading, the “cinematography” are all exquisite and create a beautiful sense of reality within the decadent pleasures of drawings. Allan’s choice of vista is profound and ambitious, with wide angles, camera depth, and no fear of full frames with entire figures and all the complications entailed in that. In fact Mr. Allan seems to revel in these full images. They are stark and vulnerable, like the tale they embody. I wish I had a verbal sensibility of graphics to describe it. His drawings scream to be witnessed, heard and understood, they command your attention, they implore your feeling. The people and the story are potent, visceral, and drive home the fragility of our lives and the tenuous ways we reach out to each other, and I never would have read it without being seduced by the artwork. That really needs to be offered up to the critics of his art—I am as prose based as any person could be, a bodily divorced cerebral person, and it is the art that seduces me into the story, reaching into me and driving me to relate. It’s a brave and personal story from the author, without being sentimental or maudlin. A mature work despite being a first work.
Date published: 2010-04-05

Editorial Reviews

Midwest Book Review:  “The teenage years are hard, and having a schizophrenic mother does not help that. The Road to God Knows... is the coming of age story of one Marie, a teenage girl faced with her single mother's increasingly complex schizophrenia. Forced to grow up before her time, she learns many important lessons. The Road to God Knows... is an intriguing and touching graphic novel with a unique art style, highly recommended.” "For teens, Marie’s struggle will resonate whether they’re dealing with a problem as severe as she is or not. Marie’s uncertain about her place in life. She’s having trouble with the other kids at school and a hostile teacher. It’s the rare teen who doesn’t know what that feels like.  What I liked most is that despite her mother’s illness and all the problems that come with it, Marie is essentially an optimistic individual. She’s still capable of joy and having fun with her friend despite the uncertainty in her life. It’s a good message to anyone that it’s possible to survive the dark periods."American Library Association's Booklist: “Marie is the fat girl neither peers nor teachers care enough about to really know. She has a golden best friend, one whose little sister looks up to her, and for escapist heroics she follows pro wrestling, which provides relief from the reality of having a schizophrenic mother. Allan sensitively makes Marie the focus of her own story, never preaching to readers or relaying more knowledge than Marie gleans on her own...Allan is realistic about schizophrenia, too, including the dopey condition of a just-medicated patient. Good for those interested in mental-health issues as they relate to families, and also in girl spirit.”Small Press Book Reviews:  “With The Road to God Knows… Von Allan demonstrates that he’s talented as both an artist and a storyteller. The Ottawa he conjures is beautifully and lovingly detailed — on par, perhaps, with the London of Dickens or the Cleveland of Harvey Pekar’s American Splendor. Stylistically, I’m also reminded of Black Hole by Charles Burns and Sloth (among other things) by Gilbert Hernandez. Regardless of his artistic influences, however, what’s clear throughout this graphic novel is that Allan is an optimist who strives to explore the human heart in all of its intricate complexity.”