The memoir Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka will hit home for anyone affected by a family member with an addiction. This is Jarrett’s story of being raised by his grandparents because of his mother’s heroin addiction. The story begins with some background into his grandparents’ lives and then his mom’s. His mom began using when she was only thirteen. She cleaned up while pregnant with Jarrett, but couldn’t fight her addiction once he was born and through his upbringing. She served jail time and her relationship with him consisted of periodic visits and letters. Jarrett didn’t meet his dad until he was graduating high school.
Jarrett’s love of art provided an outlet for him and got him through difficult times at home and school. His grandparents had their own issues with drinking, but their love for him is apparent throughout his life. They supported his art by sending him to classes, buying supplies for him to use at home, and helping his application process to art colleges. I felt endeared to his grandparents (despite some not so great moments) because of his grandfather’s sense of humor and his grandmother’s crassness. They went through a lot with their daughter as well.
This is a graphic novel with an incredible sense of detail. Krosoczka used actual drawings that he saved from his childhood throughout the book. He even used his grandmother’s favorite pineapple wallpaper between story sections. This book is clearly a labor of love. Jarrett came to terms with the mixed emotions he had for his mother and her choices and ensured that his life would be positive. Two important points become evident in this story: the tenacity of the human spirit can push one through difficulty, and home is found where you are cared for and loved.