Rating: 4.75 stars
Buy Link:
Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Novel

 

Gregor interacts with the world through drawings and pictures. He’s neurodivergent, doesn’t speak, and thinks he also has synesthesia, as he has unpleasant physical feelings when writing words. Gregor has come a long way since he was a small child, but school is still difficult for him and he’d rather be anywhere else. Especially when he has new feelings for his classmate, Noah.

Gregor lives with his older brother, Alexei, and Alexei’s boyfriend, Bruno. They are Gregor’s family and he loves them with his whole heart. Thinking about his feelings for Noah makes Gregor anxious and want to pull away, but he also looks forward to their text exchanges. Noah is vibrant, with his colorful hair, but he is also sad, and Gregor is concerned about Noah’s bruises. Gregor starts to want a little more with Noah, but being in same place as Noah sparks his anxiety. Gregor’s world often feels too intense and scary, but he knows he has figure out what he wants so he can have something real with Noah and not always feel half-drawn.

Half-Drawn Boy is a follow up to Suki Fleet’s book, The Happiness Project, featuring Alexei, Gregor’s older brother. That’s where Alexei meets Bruno and Gregor is introduced. It is also where the side character, Eddy, is introduced, and it would certainly make this a richer reading experience to have all of the backstory.

Gregor is an intricate and devastating character who must have been intense to write. He’s autistic and vulnerable and knows he sees the world as only he can. His favorite place is at home with Alexei and Bruno, surrounded by all of the things he loves, and school is a difficult place for him to be because it’s loud, constantly changing, and Gregor knows the other kids talk about him. He does have two close friends, but Gregor has to navigate life on his terms at all times.

Noah lives with a foster family and he has a foster brother and sister. They are both younger than Noah and almost all of the child care responsibility falls on Noah. He shops, he cooks, he makes sure everyone gets home from school, and Noah is overly stressed that he’s not doing everything well enough. He also has PTSD from trauma that has never been addressed, as does his foster brother who lets that out in violent ways. Noah is drawn to Gregor and respects his boundaries and, while their relationship is difficult to form at the start, they develop a lovely friendship that turns into everlasting love.

Eddy, from The Happiness Project, appears here as a side character. While I knew why he was in that book, as it gave that story a paranormal angle, his presence isn’t explained here and, from my perspective, he didn’t fit into this story.

It’s fascinating, as well as difficult at times, to be inside Gregor’s mind. Fleet’s writing is evocative and stunning and being with Gregor and all of the characters here is a lovely way to spend some time. This family will stay with me for a long time.