Many people in this world tend to label others based on their personality almost immediately. A person who is sad is depressed, a person who tends to be disorganized has ADHD, and a person who eats very little or too much has an eating disorder. But do we really know what those labels mean?
Button Pusher is written by Tyler Page, and it is based on the author’s experience of growing up with ADHD at a time when there had not been much medical research done on the neurological disorder. As a not so frequent reader myself, this book was perfect. Short with not too many words, really cool graphics, and on a topic I didn’t know much about – which kept me entertained. As I read Button Pusher, I learned many things about ADHD and the emotional challenges one has to go through with this neurological disorder. Not only did it teach me something new, but it also gave me a new perspective on things.
Button Pusher is about a boy named Tyler, and his journey from childhood into his teenage years with ADHD. The start of the book shows how Tyler developed a sense of hyperactivity in class: the inability to sit still and sudden impulses to do things without thinking. This abnormal behavior results in Tyler’s parents seeking consultation from the doctor as well as sending Tyler to group counseling sessions in order to observe his behaviors more closely. After a bunch of testing and conversations with medical professionals, Tyler is given a kind of medicine called Ritalin, which is meant to help him calm down in class. Fortunately, it works!
Throughout the book, Tyler starts finding it easier to pay attention in class and sleep at night. Unlike in the past, he is now able to complete his work even when surrounded by people. Yet, Tyler’s good grades can’t seem to make up for what is going on at home. Almost every night, Tyler’s parents’ screams and shouts fill the house, to no end. With a father whose temper explodes like a bomb over the smallest things and a mother who cannot seem to fend for herself, Tyler can’t help but feel even more different from his friends. As the book continues, it continues to show the struggles (especially psychological) that Tyler went through going into his teenage years. From the verbal taunts to the emotional challenge within his own mind, this graphic book documents key moments in Tyler’s adulthood and youth with ADHD over the span of 8 years.
Of course, a book review can’t be one if you don’t have your favorite chapters! In this case, I have a few favorite parts of the book. Firstly, I love the way the author portrayed how he, a child, had felt throughout this 8-year journey living with ADHD. There is one part of the book where his friend, Nate, asked him why he was always such a weirdo. The next scene shows Tyler looking at himself in the mirror wondering why he is different. Even though his parents and doctor never labeled him as having ADHD, being called a weirdo made Tyler look at himself from a negative perspective. He knew he was different from the rest, yet he didn’t know what it was. Tyler wanted to change that ‘weirdness’ about him, but he didn’t know where to start. This thought process clearly portrays how children can be affected by labels given to them. It may not come from hatred but rather as an innocent statement, yet Tyler felt he wanted to change himself because he didn’t like being different.
Even though this book is about ADHD, the author managed to portray his family situation to make his journey seem more realistic. As he described the yelling, screaming, temper tantrums, hurt, and even doubt that took place, it made me better understand why it is so hard for people living with an abusive family member to leave. That sense of betrayal, doubt, and fear of what they might become paralyzes their reaction towards such an environment. After being hit and punched by his dad, Tyler’s mother still didn’t get a divorce or leave her husband with her two kids in tow because she was afraid. She felt that leaving would betray the foundation she had lived on for years: a husband, a family, a home.
Most importantly, the author of this book managed to give me information on ADHD in a fun but educational way. Instead of listing everything medical researchers have to say about ADHD in long sentences, Tyler Page decided to add illustrations to his concise points. Not only did these illustrations add color to the page, they also helped me to better visualize what he was describing.
Overall, I would say that this book is worth a read. It is so short, I managed to finish reading it within an hour. Not only did it provide me with some entertainment, but it also taught me more about ADHD – something I had heard of but didn’t know much about. It is colorful, educational, and simple to read. What more could you ask for in a book?