After reading At the Edge of the Universe, I was ecstatic to read The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley, a YA realistic fiction book about grief written by the same author. Death is everywhere. It is a hospital, after all. However, for Andrew it is more personal than that. He was driving the car when the accident happened, ending the lives of his parents and his sister.
This hospital is the last place they were alive. So Andrew lives in the abandoned part of the hospital at night, then serving food in the day and hanging out with the nurses and the patients, refusing to let go of the past. Andrew feels that he is to blame for the deaths, and that he should be dead, too. That is, until he meets Rusty, another patient who is the victim of a hate crime. For once he can see a future for himself, and the two start to fall in love.
I enjoyed the comic book that he drew in half the pages. Patient F, his imaginary superhero, is a mirror image of him. I loved the juxtaposition of that. Patient F is the story of a superhero who has the powers of the universe. His parents were killed, so he goes back in time, putting his parents souls into other people's bodies to save them, then doing it again and again when they died, protecting those people as if they were his real family. This is just like Andrew. His family was gone, but he saw them in other patients and tried to protect them, refusing to let go of the past.
I also loved the personification in labeling death as a person, and the foreshadowing of Death coming for him. The five stages referenced in the title are the famous stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley clearly shows that these do not have to happen in order, and that you cannot truly predict one's grief. He almost went backwards at times through the cycles, or experiencing them all at once. Andrew's character development was extraordinary as he slowly begins to deal with all his emotions, including love. The LGBT romance was worked in nicely, and there was no awkwardness to it at all. Unlike other books where there is a lot of discussion and confusion, this was just go-with-the-flow, and truly beautiful.
I highly recommend this book, and I cannot wait to read another book of the author's, We are the Ants.
Read my review of At the Edge of the Universe, which was also written by this author.
Title: The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley
Author: Shaun David Hutchinson
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Rating: 5 Stars