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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Kelly's Review: My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf

Backderf tells us the story of Jeffrey Dahmer’s high school years as seen through the eyes of him and his friends in this graphic novel. Backderf attended high school with Dahmer and while he was not good friends with him, he socialized with him from time to time. He draws from these personal experiences as well as other sources to portray what Jeff was like as a teenager. Largely it seems that Jeff was troubled long before his serial killing of young men began. He spent most of his days drinking to help stifle his urges to kill and as a way to cope with the turmoil of his mother and father’s divorce. He also had an extreme fascination in dismembering dead animals he found in the woods surrounding his home.

This fascination of course leads to far worse acts. While we get glimpses of the troubled person Jeff was, we also see that although he was no social butterfly in school, kids did take interest in him. They especially liked it when he would approach strangers and suddenly contort his face and offer a barrage of strange noises. They found this funny and they tried to engage Jeff, but his drinking took priority.

Sometimes the art work seems extremely comical, and other times it takes on a serious tone. It was neat that Backderf could create pictures that showed us the fun side of his own high school experience alongside the darkness surrounding Jeffrey’s. An underlying theme Backderf seems to relate to readers is that it may have been possible for Dahmer’s life to have gone in a more positive direction if the adults surrounding him in his teen years had stepped up and took notice to his absences from school, and his drinking. Regardless of whether Jeff could have been helped or not, we all know what eventually became of him. A quick and informative read it is!

If you'd like to read this book, you can call the Information Desk at (856) 794-4244 ext. 4243 to put it on hold.

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