Graphic novelist Tyler Page has written about his experiences with ADHD in his book Raised on Ritalin. Now he presents another view of his young life for middle school children. In Button Pusher, Page not only gives the reader a personal view into a young teen’s journey dealing with ADHD and family drama, but provides a closer look into the history of the disease and how far science has come in treatments and diagnosis.
Tyler has a difficult time concentrating in school and his behavior has been characterized as unpredictable. No one is sure why he acts the way he does, including him. After some counseling and a few doctor visits, Tyler is diagnosed with ADHD and is given the medication Ritalin to help him focus and calm down. With daily medicine, therapy sessions, and lifestyle changes, Tyler slowly begins to adjust to his new life. However, it becomes easier said than done when his parents’ constant arguments get out of control and the pressure of high school friendships are mixed into his new life.
What makes this graphic novel a must have for all collections is the author’s intimate look into his family struggles and how ADHD affects not only the child but everyone around them. While most scenes depict a normal day of school or having fun at a friend’s house, Page does not shy away from describing his parents’ arguments and his father’s short temper. With creative skill, these scenes are expressed vividly with drastic color changes, symbols replacing curse words, and characters’ heartbreaking facial expression and intense body language. Doctor visits with his mother show the difficulties of the diseases, with young Tyler bouncing off the walls and fumbling with anything he can get his hands on. Reprinted patient summaries after each visit offer readers a personal look at how an individual was diagnosed at the time. History of the disease and its symptoms are presented throughout the comic as infographics using different hues of blue and mini cartoons. Towards the end of the story, Page offers artwork from his childhood, ranging from original comics to character designs, along with a look inside the process of creating a comic page for the graphic novel.
Button Pusher is a great choice for any public and school library collection, especially those that serve middle school and upper elementary students. Tyler Page writes and illustrates with honesty, depicting the good memories of his teenage years and the awful ones without missing a beat. With his personal insight, young readers who are unfamiliar with the illness or feel like they may have it will see this graphic novel as a good resource to start with, prompting them to conduct further research.
By Tyler Page
Macmillan First Second, 2022
Publisher Age Rating: 10-14
NFNT Age Recommendation: Teen (13-16), Tween (10-13)
Creator Representation: ADHD
Character Representation: ADHD