BOOK REVIEW: The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley by Shaun David Hutchinson

My first run-in with Shaun David Hutchinson didn't go down prettily. I cried and cried a bit more and nearly broke down in a scene where I found out just why Andrew Brawley, the main character in his newest book out, needed to attempt CPR on a toddler corpse. Sounds morbid, right?! And yet there's so much more that makes up the whole of this story. Such a raging good book that hits you right in the gut and other times slaps you across the face with the feels. It's bloody fantastic! 

  • TITLE: The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley
  • AUTHOR(S): Shaun David Hutchinson
  • SERIES: Stand Alone
  • PUB INFO: Simon Pulse on 1/20/2015
  • ACQUIRED HOW? Publisher sent ARC for honest review
  • BOOK RATING: Cherry Pie
Wounds heal — emotional, physical — of course, scarring occurs but ultimately with time, people get better. In an effort to make sense of his world, Andrew Brawley hides out in the hospital where he last saw his family alive. Guilt grounding him in place, he is stagnant and broken and immobilized by a fear of death, who stalks the hallways Andrew calls home. His sketchbook his constant companion and a story about Superhero Patient F, which while cathartic fails to console him without an ending.
It would be remiss of me not to mention how Christine Larsen’s illustrations interspersed throughout the story, despite how devastating they are and bloody violent, make their own statement to just what exactly is missing from Andrew’s life and to the severity of his denial. Comic panels of insight that really do document five stages — The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley.

Andrew’s running and running and although he has made friends, and promises to keep them safe, death catches up to them. He lives in a hospital afterall.

Love fights to forgive. Faith fights for hope. Andrew fights these concepts because he feels underserving, unaware that the beauty of grace is that it makes life unfair (Relient K). And it really is awful when Andrew comes back to reality and faces everything he’s charged himself with. The brilliance of his unraveling due to Shaun’s sensitive handling of the memories, the influence of others’ pain and the stretching pull of humanity’s need to be loved and loved in return.

QUOTE ME: There are moments that tear you open and pierce your core. Statements of agonized pain felt so deeply that your bones ache for the profound truth that bites and burns and sears its way onto your heart. Revelations spoken of a short-lived relief from the agony of being different to being judged and juried by your peers so much so that every day is torture and the very thought of living one day more a hellish prospect — these hardly seem like the makings of a redemptive story and yet, Shaun twists, bends, and turns his words into masterful cuts of a reflective whole formed from cracked, stained souls but each one ever so beautiful.

BONUS: A sneak peek at Shaun David Hutchinson's upcoming novel with expected release in 2016 sometime. Titled We Are The Ants, how cool is that cover and summary. So enticing, yeah?!

SUMMARY: Henry Denton doesn’t know why the aliens chose to abduct him when he was thirteen, and he doesn’t know why they continue to steal him from his bed and take him aboard their ship. He doesn’t know why the world is going to end or why the aliens have offered him the opportunity to avert the impending disaster by pressing a big red button. But they have. And they’ve only given him 144 days to make up his mind. 

Since the suicide of his boyfriend, Jesse, Henry has been adrift. He’s become estranged from his best friend, started hooking up with his sworn enemy, and his family is oblivious to everything that’s going on around them. As far as Henry is concerned, a world without Jesse is a world he isn’t sure is worth saving. Until he meets Diego Vega, an artist with a secret past who forces Henry to question his beliefs, his place in the universe, and whether any of it really matters. But before Henry can save the world, he’s got to figure out how to save himself, and the aliens haven’t given him a button for that.

cross-posted to Fangirlish


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