Jun 15, 2013

My Friend Dahmer

Derf Backderf was a classmate and semi-friend to Jeffrey Dahmer.  My Friend Dahmer is a graphic novel recounting the high school and familial experiences that played a role in shaping Dahmer's murderous future.   The reflections on Dahmer's high school years not only foreshadow what is to come, but also cause the reader to question why no adult interfered to help the situation. Are they to blame for what happened? Can anyone but Dahmer even be blamed?  In the novel's introduction, Backderf emphasizes that he feels no sympathy for Dahmer post-murders, but while reading his presentation of Dahmer's early history, you can't help but feel sorry for what he lived with and wonder what could have been done to prevent the monstrosity to come.

This excerpt from the earlier parts of the novel is very "The Road Not Taken."
Backderf accounts for all of his sources that he relied upon to put this work together, including interviews with teachers, students, FBI files, and his own memories.  He does his best to present facts, not speculation, and he makes notes throughout the novel to explain the few artistic liberties taken (i.e. leaving Dahmer's younger brother out of the story).  The artwork is spooky and bears a great (and nerve-wracking) resemblance to Dahmer. 

This graphic novel can work on so many levels.  It's great for readers of history, graphic novel enthusiasts or novices, and readers interested in serial killers - fictional or nonfictional.  I especially believe that teens who enjoyed titles like I Hunt Killers and The Name of the Star, recent popular YA novels that feature serial killers,will also enjoy this graphic novel.

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