Throughout the politically charged 1970s, Ror’s father had been slowly going crazy. Raging against “the man,” he insisted that his family squat on secluded Staten Island property and avoid contact with “normals.” Ror, a gifted artist, was able to live with her Dado in relative peace, trusting his vision of the world. This abruptly ends the night Dado sets a fire and burns their home to the ground. Ror and her mother and sister escape, but Dado dies in the flames. Now Ror must attend public school in New York City. The sole redemption is art class, where she meets a talented rival named Trey. There are sparks of attraction and competition between the two. Through Trey, Ror discovers the art of graffiti, and soon enough she finds herself craving the feel of a spray can in her hand.
Author Julie Chibbaro does a good job portraying the mind of an artist, but J.M. Superville Sovak’s artwork transforms the book into something exceptional. Sovak masterfully depicts Ror’s emotional turbulence. Many drawings include Ror’s Dado, where Ror is able to confront him with her grief and anger. As Ror begins to explore the world of underground graffiti art, she finds a way to express her unique spirit separate from Dado.
Readers intrigued by stories of young cult members making their way in the world, such as Karen Finneyfrock’s Starbird Murphy and the World Outside, should identify with Ror’s alienation. In addition, graphic novel fans will love the novel’s synchronization of text and image.
Diane Colson works at the Nashville Public Library. She has long been active in the American Library Association's Young Adult Library Association (YALSA), serving on selection committees such as the Morris Award, the Alex Award and the Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults Award.