A Slug Story
A Slug Story
Marcus: When I’m stuck in this horrible room, seeing friendly people makes me feel so much better.
Marcus’s Mother: Me too Marcus.
Marcus has been fascinated by slugs since he was in elementary school. However, he is relentlessly teased by other students for his interest in slugs. He tells readers, “Why don’t NICE words feel as GOOD as MEAN words feel BAD?” He starts to think that maybe he is a “slug,” because he feels “slimy and stupid”. Why isn’t a good attitude not enough to achieve something despite the challenges you face in life?
When Marcus gets to high school, he collapses from a seizure and is taken to the hospital. At first, the doctors don’t know what’s wrong with him, but, eventually, they discover that he has a virus impacting his brain. His memory has become very weak. He worries that he will never get out of the hospital. One day, he starts seeing angel wings on individuals who are friendly and helpful – doctors, nurses, and aides.
Then, a girl named Emily moves into the bed beside him. She has a tumor on her brain and needs an operation to save her life. She must cope with the fear of dying. The two patients begin to discuss their lives. Marcus talks about his theory that there are two kinds of people – slugs and caterpillars. Slugs stay the same – but caterpillars learn to fly as butterflies. Their friendship helps both of them deal with their new and difficult reality.
The illustrations are vibrant and evocative. They complement the narrative and help readers imagine the “angel wings” that Marcus and Emily see as they try to deal with serious brain dysfunction.
A Slug Story is a touching novel about coping with a serious illness. It also addresses human frailty and kindness. On the very first page, the writers define the word “Kindness” as, “the quality or state of being kind, treating people with kindness and respect.” This graphic novel was based on the real-life experiences of one of the writers, Hana Kujawa, who suffered a similar medical crisis while in university. The writers explain the origin of the story in the “Afterword”. Kindness became very important to Hana as she dealt with her illness. A Slug Story is an uplifting graphic novel about a young man who struggles to fit in with his peers. Concepts of friendship, courage, and kindness are highlighted because, “Kindness is actual magic.”
Myra Junyk, a literacy advocate and author, lives in Toronto, Ontario.