The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley – Shaun David Hutchinson- Review
Andrew should be dead. He was supposed to die in the accident that took his parents and little sister. He now hides in the hospital where they died. He is intent on evading Death, who is after him. That is until the night a boy his age comes through the door. Now he must save Rusty. But how do you save someone else when you have no idea how to save yourself?
The characters in this story were compelling. Andrew was interesting because he acted beyond his age. He was able to take care of himself in the hospital. He was smart and clever enough to hide from the authorities. He wasn’t afraid of being alone. He showed wisdom beyond his age.
Normally this would throw me off. I would wonder how a child could manage all this, even a teenager. But it is well established that this kid has been through a trauma that allows him to grow up fast. We see that what happened to his family threw him into a whole new world. One where he had to learn to sink or swim.
I also really liked Rusty. This wasn’t his story per se but it felt like his story as much as Andrew’s. We learn what happened to him and why. The details that Andrew gets give us a clear picture of what is going on.
I also really liked that Rusty connected to Andrew so quickly. He saw a kindred spirit in this lost boy. Both of them were lost kids who needed someone to understand them. They saw that in each other and connected over it.
The addition of the comic Andrew was working on was great. I really liked being able to see and read the comic. I think something would have been lost without that addition. I don’t think just describing it would have been able to give the whole picture. With the periodic looks at the comic I felt the connection to the story as a whole. I liked the mix of these types of story telling to give one full story.
I felt like there were some stories missing. Each of the characters had a tale of their own and you got hints of them from everyone but never the full story of anyone. I wanted to know more about all of them. There was definitely something missing from Father Mike’s story as well as Aimee’s story.
I found myself anticipating what was coming for them and was disappointed when we didn’t learn what was going on. I could discern most of it but I didn’t want to guess at it. I wanted to know that these people all had problems just like Andrew. I think each of them revealing their secrets would have helped Andrew grow and find his way.
I adore Shaun David Hutchinson’s other books. I know this was written before those and you can see him finding his way as a writer. While this book is great it is very heavy handed with its message.
You didn’t have to guess at the message even a little bit. There was no room for interpretation in the message. It was plain and written out over and over again for you. I am used to his much more subtle way of telling you something in his later books.
I think that if I read this book first before the other ones I wouldn’t have had an issue with this way of telling the message of the story. But I know what he can do and am glad to see how he grew as a writer. You can see he found his groove with We are the ants and it is great to see.
I gave this book 3 stars on Goodreads. While I enjoyed it it was missing the punch that his later books have.
“It begins there because it’s important to know that a superhero with no past began as a man with no future.” (pg. 8)
“Maybe hell is seeing the lost loved painted over the faces of the strangers we meet.” (pg. 58)
“Maybe our beliefs decide our fate after death.” (pg. 99)
“No one unravels all of life’s many mysteries. They grow older and become better liars.” (pg. 123)