Paul Has a Summer Job
After impulsively dropping out of school and working at a dead-end print shop apprenticeship, Paul is asked at the last minute to become a counsellor for a summer camp for underprivileged kids. He doesn’t like solitude, the woods, or kids, but he accepts anyway. Since Paul Has a Summer Job is a standard coming-of-age story, by the end of the summer he’s challenged himself to overcome his fears, become a mentor for the kids, been touched beyond words by a handicapped child, and experienced his first love.
Paul’s the kind of character who doesn’t care enough about anyone else to get even their coffee orders right and then wonders why everyone has no faith in him. He mentally tortures the family dog, kills his pet bird through neglect, and rebuffs his parents’ attempts to support him, only later realizing how good he’s had it. I suppose that’s a realistic portrayal of many teens, but I found myself wondering why I should care that deeply about this whiner. Getting too involved in his story only seemed to be feeding his already overblown ego.
The predictable coda to the story by Michel Rabagliati shows that he still hasn’t fully gotten over his self-centeredness, although I guess a certain amount of egotism is necessary for a biographical artist. The simplified art style is attractive and makes for an easy read, but the book is a fairly typical example of its genre. I kept thinking while reading it “this is the Canadian Blankets, only shorter”.