'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Friday 29 September 2023

Review: Sunshine: How one camp taught me about life, death and hope

Sunshine: How one camp taught me about life, death and hope is a memoir in the form of a graphic novel.

Created by Jarrett J Krosoczka, Sunshine is the story of a memorable summer in his teenage years. It's an experience that changes his life.

When he was sixteen, Jarrett spent one week as a student leader at Camp Sunshine, a holiday camp for children with life-threatening illnesses, and their families.

At Camp Sunshine Jarrett meets people like thirteen-year-old Diego who has a brain tumour and uses a wheelchair. Jarrett's interest in art and his drawing abilities provide an opening for developing a friendship with Diego, and the other kids.

He learns some of the challenges, frustrations and impacts of cancer and its treatment. And he discovers that when you're faced with a life-threatening illness, personally or by close association, the way you look at life changes.

Sunshine raises some big questions and covers a raft of subjects including illness, life and death, grief and loss, ability and disability, growing up, family and friendship. The visual storytelling of the graphic novel format enhances the experience of this window into the life of the author/illustrator.

For personal reasons, I approached this book with some trepidation, but found that despite the sometimes confronting subject matter, it also offered hopeful moments. Filled with the emotional ups and downs of real-life, Sunshine is a powerful memoir.

Note: Anyone keen to try their hand at drawing in general, or creating their own graphic novel, should visit Jarrett's website for some helpful free resources, including guides and video tutorials. You can also watch and listen to Jarrett's TED Talk 'How a boy became an artist'.

Title: Sunshine: How one camp taught me about life, death and hope
Author/Illustrator: Jarrett J Krosoczka
Publisher: Scholastic, $ 22.99
Publication Date: May 2023
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781338356311
For ages: 13+
Type: Graphic Novel