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"Jesus, are you listening?"note 

"Even in the darkest hours, light comes into every life."
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When Heaven Spits You Out is a series of graphic novels by Ruairidh MacVeigh that follows the story of 11-year-old Ryan Hanson, who lives in the rough inner-city of Baltimore with his mother, Jinny, younger brother, Mark, and his abusive, alcoholic father, Simon. The story, set in 1971, establishes Ryan's life of poverty and sadness in the decaying city, showing the relationship he leads with his parents and brother and how he survives day-to-day. The novel is set against the background of America's economic and social decline during the 1970s, and world events within the timeline of the story, such as the launch of Apollo 15 and the Attica Prison Riot, are used as a means of dating each instance of the novel's progression; appearing in either background newspaper articles or on the television.

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By the end of Part 1, Ryan has been sent to a boarding school in rural Pennsylvania, where he meets a young, Jewish girl named Janie Hanzlicek; with whom he strikes an immediate friendly chord. However, the shadow of Simon hangs over Ryan, as his father will not allow him to associate with a Jew, throwing their possible future association into doubt.

The comic is available in digital form only at Comixology. A novelization of the comic is also available on Amazon, which generally follows the same plot but is told from the perspective of a 30-year-old Ryan recounting his twisted childhood, and also elaborates on some scenes which are not illustrated in the comic. An audiobook reading based on the novelization, narrated by MacVeigh himself, can be found on Audible.


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In the comic

     6 - H 

  • The '40s: As Jinny and Josie were born and spent their early childhood in the 1940s, some events are shown in flashback, as per below:
    • Jinny and Josie's father, Harris, is seen fighting at the Battle of Iwo Jima during World War II, this fight taking place between February 19th and March 26th, 1945.
  • The '50s: Much like the 40s, events in the 1950s are used to frame dates during Jinny, Josie's and Simon's childhood, as illustrated below:
    • The night Simon and Jinny make love for the first time is the night famed actor Errol Flynn died on October 14th, 1959.
  • The '60s: Much like the 70's, events in the 1960s are used to frame dates during Ryan's flashbacks, as illustrated below:
    • During Part 2, when Ryan recalls to Janie the first time his abuse started under his father, he and his brother, Mark, are watching news coverage of the 1966 University of Texas massacre, which occurred on August 1st of that year.
    • In Part 3, when Ryan reminisces on the tale of his brother's birth, he is sat watching President John F. Kennedy declare an end to the Cuban Missile Crisis, which concluded on November 20th, 1962.
  • '70s Hair: As this starts in 1971...
  • The '70s: As the series is set in the 1970's, there are plenty of visual and spoken references to contemporary pop-culture, with certain events being used to mark dates as the story progresses without stating the date on-screen. Aside from frizzy hair, flared jeans and big cars, a few examples are illustrated below:
    • In Part 1, President Richard Nixon is seen declaring his intention to travel to communist China in 1972 - the speech was made on July 15th, 1971.
    • In Part 1, Apollo 15 can be seen launching on TV during Ryan's 11th birthday party (July 26th, 1971).
    • In Part 1, When Ryan leaves for boarding school, a newspaper article announcing the end of the Attica Prison Riot can be seen at Baltimore station - the riot was quelled on September 13th, 1971.
    • In Part 3, Ryan, Janie and her family go to watch the first playing of Fiddler on the Roof at their local cinema - this film opened on November 3rd, 1971.
    • In Part 4, the opening flashback to when Janie proposed to Ryan that he goes on vacation with her to Israel to witness her Bat Mitzvah takes place on the same day as when Richard Nixon met Chairman Mao for the first time in communist China (February 22nd, 1972).
  • Abusive Parent: A focal point of the story, Ryan is constantly tortured both physically and emotionally by his father, Simon, with a few examples below:
    • In Part 1, Simon throws Ryan to the floor with such force it breaks his arm.
    • He fails to show up to Ryan's 11th birthday, and instead chooses to spend the day drinking.
    • He refuses to allow Ryan to share a room with Janie because she's Jewish.
    • In Part 2, he drags Ryan out of bed in the middle of the night and beats him senseless before forcing him to clean the bathroom, even though he had already done so hours earlier.
    • The following night, he drags Ryan out of bed and throws him down the stairs.
    • There is a general pervasive fear that if Ryan talks about his abuse that Simon will do something to his younger brother Mark.
    • In Part 3, it's revealed that Simon tore up a music scholarship that Ryan had achieved, claiming that only 'faggots' go into music.
    • In Part 4, Simon seems ostensibly supportive of Ryan's friendship with what he believes to be another boy, although he initially suspects some kind of homosexual element to their bonding. Furthermore, the general thought he has is that Ryan should use his new rich friend in order to make himself some money.
    • He and his wife, Jinny, are near constantly fighting verbally over one thing or another.
  • Adults Are Useless: A mixed bag. In some instances, adult characters provide much needed help to the main child characters of the story, including Ryan's mom, Jinny; Josie, his aunt; Mr. Milton, his gym teacher; and Shirley, his neighbour. In other instances, the characters directly hinder and threaten our protagonist, primarily Ryan's abusive dad, Simon.
  • Adult Fear:
    • Your drunken husband throws you helplessly to the ground and proceeds to strangle your son before throwing him to the floor with such force it breaks his arm.
    • Your son is violently abused and even thrown down the stairs by your drunken, hate-filled husband, but despite his severe injuries he's too afraid to tell the truth for fear that his brother may have worse done to him in retaliation.
  • All Abusers Are Male: Appears to be the case, as Ryan's main tormentors are his dad and a school bully named Scott.
  • All Up to You: When Ryan is brought up to bat in the baseball game, his Home Run is the only thing to break the tied scores between the girl's and boy's teams.
  • The Almighty Dollar: Ryan and Frank are amazed when Peter presents them with a $20 bill he stole from his dad's jacket pocket.
  • As the Good Book Says...: Regarding the perception of Ryan's local priest, Father Moynihan, more like what the good book doesn't say. His sermons are fiery and full of hate, stating that God looks dimly on the weak and useless, and instead empowers the worthy.
  • Asleep in Class: Ryan, during his flashback.
  • Author Appeal: Given MacVeigh's track record of writing period pieces with copious amounts of historical tidbits and transport - such as cars and planes - there is a wide scope of this due to the 1970s setting.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Despite their apparent mortal hatred of one another, Simon and Jinny are glimpsed snuggling and recounting better times after making love in bed. However, this would apparently be the last time the two would feel this way for each other, as following the birth of their second son, Mark, Simon showed nothing but indifference to him, for which Jinny never forgave.
  • Awkward Father-Son Bonding Activity: In order to make up with Ryan after breaking his arm, Simon takes Ryan to the park for a walk, although Ryan is initially reluctant to do so. Once there, the pair do very little interaction, mooching silently around the lake while walking their dog, Chester.
  • Back to School: Part 1 shows Ryan finish Elementary School, and move on to High School by the end.
  • Backstory Horror: Illustrated through a flashback illustrating the abuse Ryan suffers at the hands of his father.
  • Baltimore: The setting of the series.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: Inverted. Janie is seen with visible nipples while she's showering, but as she is only eleven years old this is not considered explicit.
  • Baseball Episode: Part 2.
  • Befriending the Enemy: While Simon considers Janie to be the enemy of all decent people - because she's Jewish - Ryan still makes friends with her.
  • Being Good Sucks: Appears to be the way for Ryan early in the story, as well as in the flashbacks to his abusive upbringing under the thumb of his father, Simon. Despite Ryan looking out for Mark and practically raising him as a parent himself, he is rewarded with nothing but bullying, violence and despair.
  • Belief Makes You Stupid: One instance of this is when Ryan is at church and is forced to kiss the feet of a figurine depicting Jesus on the cross. Needless to say, this fills him with discontent.
  • Berserk Button: Basically the entirety of Simon Hanson's character, who, in his drunken rage, violently takes out his anger on Ryan for no apparent reason.
  • Betrayal by Offspring: Jinny, when she essentially 'betrays' her family be sleeping around with Simon, ultimately leading to her accidental pregnacny.
  • Beware the Quiet Ones: When undisturbed, Simon is illustrated to be very quiet and brooding, often stood alone and not interacting with anyone. However, once his drunken rage is unleashed...
  • Big Fancy House: Janie's mansion in rural Connecticut, an opulent palace with giant bedrooms and huge living spaces that perfectly epitomizes how far Mátyás Hanzlicek has come from his impoverished migrant background.
  • Big Game: While the baseball game played in Part 2 isn't a formal competition, it is still a major moment for Ryan as it becomes his first time playing the sport, even scoring a Home Run.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: The Hanson family.
    • To a point, Jinny's own family, the Magranes.
  • Bigotry Exception: Despite Ephraim's feelings towards gentiles, he does eventually warm up to Ryan after getting to know him.
  • Bigot vs. Bigot: In terms of the two sides Ryan faces in his religious struggle, he is presented with his abusive and unflinchingly Christian dad, Simon, and Janie's strongly Jewish uncle Ephraim Hanzlicek. Both men are highly bigoted against anything or anyone that isn't their own religion due to their experiences, with Ryan torn between loyalty to his own father, despite the abuse he endures from him, and a new found loyalty to Janie and her uncle, a man who he admires for his struggles in life, but maintains a prejudiced eye against gentiles.
  • Birthday Party Goes Wrong: The moment Simon enters the room after a day of binge drinking on Ryan's birthday.
  • Bitch Slap: A girl in Ryan's church congregation gets one from her dad for yawning during the sermon.
  • Bittersweet Ending: While Part 1 ends with Ryan happy to be living away from his twisted home and making a new friend at High School, he is knocked off balance by the fear of his father; who won't allow him to make friends with a Jew.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: While Ryan, despite his upbringing, and Janie are largely moral characters, both of them are forced to create an elaborate lie in order to allow them to be friends with each other and avoid the wrath of Ryan's abusive and extremely bigoted dad, from which Ryan starts to struggle with the guilt of his falsehoods.
    • Jinny is the moral guidance of Ryan, helping to ensure he doesn't become a directionless, hate-filled waif like his father, but at the same time, as shown in Part 5, her own youth was one of mischief, malice and a desire to break the stringent rules of 1950s American society whenever possible, culminating in her accidentally being impregnated by Simon that results in her being disowned by her family.
  • Blinded by Rage: Simon is shown to have no perception of what he's doing to Ryan when he's drunk, unable to see the pain and torment he's unleashing on his kids.
  • Boarding School: Port Royal High School; where Ryan is sent to attend at the end of Part 1.
  • Boarding School of Horrors: Inverted. The school is demonstrated to be generally pleasant, aside from the few instances of student bullying.
  • Boy Meets Girl: Ryan and Janie.
    • Simon and Jinny during the 1950s.
  • Break the Cutie: Ryan and Mark on multiple occasions.
    • Jinny included after a violent argument on Ryan's birthday.
    • In Part 4, this happens to Janie when, after failing an exam, she marches back to her room in tears and slumps down on the bed to sob her eyes out - she explains that her inability to complete exams makes her feel dumb.
    • Plenty in Part 5. Jinny, having ruined her life by having sex with Simon and accidentally conceiving a child, is shown in tears on multiple occasions.
  • Brooding Boy, Gentle Girl: Ryan is something of a loner who discusses very little of the abuse he suffers at home, while Janie slowly begins to understand his pain and gradually bring him out of his shell.
    • The same could be said for Simon and Jinny. Simon was a brooding, angry and violent young man with a natural hatred for the world around him, his only anchor to any form of love or care in his youth being Jinny, before her love and desire became too much.
  • Category Traitor: How Jinny's father, Harris, perceives her after she has become pregnant with Simon's child.
  • Character Development: Since Part 1, Ryan has evolved from being a weak, nervous and mentally unstable little boy to a more confident adolescent, willing to take more risks and try new things at the urging of his new friend Janie.
    • During Part 5, the childhoods of both Jinny and Simon are explored through a lengthy flashback sequence, where we see Simon as an angry, hate-filled orphan and Jinny as the daughter of a middle-class family but with a mischievous streak that makes her and Simon the best of friends, ultimately leading to their eventual romance, and her subsequent impregnation that costs them everything.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Begins to be played with in Part 4. While previous volumes of the story had other people considering whether or not Ryan and Janie were dating, Part 4 has Ryan affectionately place his hand on Janie's while she's sleeping as they fly from New York to Israel. The prospect apparently becomes all to real to Ryan, though, after he overhears her uncle Ephraim's opinion and warning of a possible interfaith romance, and thus he speaks to god in order to dispel his worries and seek comfort in the truth.
    • Simon and Jinny, as explored in Part 5.
  • Christianity Is Catholic: The only arm of Christianity depicted in the series is Catholicism.
  • The City vs. the Country: Ryan's upbringing in his decaying, crime-ridden hometown of Baltimore is contrast greatly against the peace and tranquility of Janie's home in the rural Connecticut highlands.
  • Comedic Underwear Exposure: In Part 4, Lars Holbrook joins the other boys of the dorm (and Janie) to watch a movie, but because his pajamas are in the laundry, he decides to watch the film while only in his underwear. This, naturally, arouses the curiosity of the other boys, with Janie pointing out that he should have simply just worn his normal clothes and then changed for bed.
    Ryan: "Yeah, Lars, why are you only in your skivvies?"
    Lars: "My PJs are in the laundry, so this is all I had to wear."
    Janie: "Well, why didn't you just wear your normal clothes and then get changed after the movie?"
    Lars: "I... I didn't think of that."
  • Coming-of-Age Story: In Part 5, Janie undertakes her Bat Mitzvah to become a woman in Jewish law.
  • Confess in Confidence: Ryan confesses the truth of his abuse to Janie, who promises not to tell anyone else.
    • Josie confesses the truth of his parent's childhood to him in Part 5.
  • Conflicting Loyalty: Ryan is presented with this when he has to choose between either his family or his budding friendship with Janie.
    • This comes to a head when Ryan is presented with an offer to spend the fall break at Janie's house, therefore having to lie to his family about who he's truly going with, to which he ultimately accepts.
  • Cool Car: The 1971 Cadillac Eldorado owned by Mátyás.
    • Ephraim owns a former British Army Bedford lorry, which he had converted for his use as a man missing a foot, and used it during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.
  • Cool Kid-and-Loser Friendship: Ryan is demonstrated to be something of a loner, while Janie is a very popular girl among her peers. Together, they make an unlikely friendship.
  • Crisis of Faith: Upon his stay at the Hanzlicek farmhouse in Israel, Ryan is confronted with problems regarding whether or not he is allowed to practice his Christian rituals in their Jewish house, and worries about the potential damage his relationship with Janie may cause, especially in the eyes of her highly conservative uncle, Ephraim.
  • Crowd Chant: The girls chant Ryan's name as he finishes off his Home Run during the baseball game.
  • Culture Clash: To an extent. Ryan's Christian upbringing is somewhat out of step with Janie's strongly Jewish heritage, which becomes apparent during Part 4.
    • Explored in Part 5 with Jinny and Simon, Jinny being the daughter of a middle-class family in suburbia, living the American Dream, while Simon is an unloved orphan growing up in the harsh inner-city.
  • Curse Cut Short: When Mark is about to say something profane at the end of Part 3, Ryan gives him a dirty look to stop him.
    Ryan: "What are they fighting about now?"
    Mark: "Oh, who the fu-"
    Ryan: (Gives dirty look)
    Mark: "Erm... I mean, who knows."
  • Cut Himself Shaving: In a flashback, while Ryan is getting changed for gym, the extent of his injuries received from the abuse he suffered at the hands of his father are shown to his classmates. When they ask, he simply answers that he 'fell'.
  • Cute Little Fangs: Ryan wears a set of fake fangs on Halloween to compliment his vampire costume.
  • Daddy Didn't Show: Simon demonstrates this when he doesn't attend Ryan's birthday; instead having an all-day binge.
  • Darker and Edgier: Compared to MacVeigh's previous comics, this one deals with much darker themes, including parental abuse, bigotry, teen pregnancy, family disownment and forbidden friendships. While his previous comics had dramatic moments (and Outsiders especially so toward the end before it was deleted), they still had enough lighthearted moments to keep things balanced. This comic, however, is perhaps his bleakest one yet, with the few lighthearted moments coming from Ryan and Janie bonding.
    • The comic also deals with previously covered topics in a much more cynical way. As per the previous Maddie series, where Christianity is portrayed as a light-hearted, background vocation for some of the characters, here it is seen as a dominant and oppressive force in Ryan's life, which is fundamentally the main driver behind his actions and decisions with regard to how he handles his friendship with Janie.
  • Dark Shepherd: Ryan's local priest instills the fear of god into his followers through threats of eternal damnation for those who are misled, weak or useless.
  • Death Glare: When Simon bursts into Ryan's room and drags him out of bed.
  • Deep Sleep: In Part 4, Janie is so completely unconscious that she doesn't know she's using Ryan as a pillow.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: As opposed to other people's flashbacks, Ryan's flashbacks have the colors muted in order to emphasize the dreariness and despair of his past.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: The attitudes of Ephraim Hanzlicek towards gentiles, and especially Arabs, are more reflective of the era in which the comic is set, when tensions between Israel and the surrounding Arab states were reaching their peak.
  • Dinner and a Show: Jinny and Simon's bickering is not forestalled by breakfast, lunch or dinner.
  • Dislikes the New Guy: Scott, the moment he lays eyes upon Ryan, displays immediate animosity and contempt towards him.
  • Don't Look at Me!: When Ryan wets himself, Janie is helping him clean himself up when she unexpectedly turns to face him while he's naked. Though he doesn't say anything, merely covering his privates with his hands, the implication is clear to Janie, and she turns around to face the other way for the rest of the scene.
  • Door Slam of Rage: Simon, as he marches out the house after a verbal argument with his wife on Ryan's birthday.
  • Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male: It could be argued that when Jinny forces herself on Simon in his car, this constitutes as a manner of rape as he wasn't exactly consenting. She knew what she wanted, and he wasn't fully aware of what she was doing to him, therefore, at the very least, the act could be considered statutory rape.
  • Down to the Last Play: When Ryan is brought up to bat in the baseball game, his Home Run is the only thing to break the tied scores between the girl's and boy's teams.
  • Downer Beginning: Within the first few pages, Ryan has his arm broken by Simon during a drunken rage.
    • Part 2 starts with Ryan having a horrifying nightmare, causing him to wake up in tears.
  • Dramatic Sit-Down: After running away from the baseball game in a panic, Ryan falls to the floor and begins to cry.
  • Dream Intro: At the beginning of Part 4, Ryan has a dream of playing a white grand piano in some kind of ethereal realm, before being joined by Janie who watches him blissfully.
  • Drugs Are Bad: As shown in the opening scenes with a pair of stoned teenagers collapsed in a heap on the street.
    • Shown in a way in Part 5 when Jinny is introduced to both smoking and drinking by Simon, but in both instances she reacts poorly and thus doesn't pursue them.
  • Dysfunctional Family: If it weren't for Simon, Mark, Jinny and Ryan would make a somewhat happy family.
  • Dysfunction Junction: The entire Hanson family.
  • Eating Lunch Alone: Ryan Hanson.
    • Simon Hanson as a child.
  • Education Through Pyrotechnics: During chemistry class, the class is heating magnesium in a fragile crucible when Ryan is suddenly knocked over by two boys fighting behind him. Knocking over the apparatus, the crucible falls to the desk and breaks, revealing the white hot metal that blinds the surrounding students and starts to melt a hole in the desk. The teacher quickly puts it out with a fire extinguisher.
  • Eiffel Tower Effect: On the train to Janie's house, Ryan and Janie's arrival into New York is signified through a distant shot of the yet-incomplete Twin Towers of the World Trade Center.
    • The Dome of the Rock and the Wailing Wall are used to establish the city of Jerusalem during Ryan and Janie's visit in Part 5.
  • Elaborate University High: Port Royal High School in rural Pennsylvania.
  • Emancipated Child: Ryan, when he leaves home to go to High School.
  • Embarrassing Damp Sheets: One evening, Ryan wets himself in his sleep, which is discovered by Janie. Janie, however, helps to get him cleaned up without anyone else finding out.
  • Embarrassment Plot: Much of Part 2 centres around Ryan's fear of embarrassment due to his mental strains, including his fear of being put on the spot while playing baseball, and when he accidentally wets himself in his sleep in front of Janie.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Several during the course of the opening parts:
    • Ryan's first scene shows him walking home from elementary school alone while reading a book, showing his solitary nature but also his bookworm ways.
    • Jinny's loving nature towards Ryan is demonstrated immediately as she showers him with affection, and illustrates genuine care for his wellbeing despite their situation.
    • The first time we see Mark, he immediately says something vulgar, establishing his propensity to pick up and use bad words.
    • Simon's first appearance in the series has him screaming at his wife due to his alcoholism, and subsequently, in a fit of violent, drunken rage, he breaks Ryan's arm.
      • As a child, the first time he is introduced to Jinny, he had stuck a pin tack on the teacher's chair in class, establishing the mischievous cord both he and Jinny share that makes them immediate friends.
    • In the first scene we see her, Janie is in the middle of her evening prayer, kippah and all, both establishing her Jewish faith, but also her devotion to it.
    • Lars Holbrook's first appearance in Part 2 is shown as he is being threatened by an upperclassman, followed later by him clumsily shoving a boy into Ryan during a science experiment, nearly causing a fire.
    • One of the very first words that comes out of Scott MacCready's mouth is him calling Ryan a 'faggot', establishing an immediate rivalry between them.
    • Janie's dad, Mátyás, has one when he meets Ryan in Part 3, wherein his death camp tattoo is briefly glimpsed, revealing a significant part of his past.
    • Natasha Hanzlicek's arrival on the scene is greeted through her attempting to sneak up on Janie to make her jump, demonstrating the playful rivalry her and her older sister share.
    • Janie's uncle Ephraim has one in Part 4, where his right foot is missing due to action he saw fighting the Nazi's during World War II.
    • Harris Magrane is first shown fighting at Iwo Jima during World War II, illustrating his military past and the sense of honour he held in order to serve his country.
  • Establishing Series Moment: Within the first twenty pages, the dire poverty of Ryan's life, as well as the abusiveness of his father, are established and illustrated.
  • Everybody Cries: Mark, Ryan and Jinny are all left in tears after a vicious argument with Simon on Ryan's 11th birthday.
    • Happens in Part 5 after Jinny has been kicked out of the Magrane household due to her getting pregnant and shaming herself.
  • Everybody Smokes: Played with. During the flashback to Jinny and Simon's youth, Simon attempts to introduce Jinny to smoking, but upon taking one puff she breaks down in coughing fits, much to his and his friend's amusement.
  • Everyone Can See It: Apart from Janie and Ryan themselves, everyone else is convinced they're in love with each other.
  • Expy: While the story as a whole has enough to make it stand out from MacVeigh's previous comics, the two main characters do exhibit a few character traits similar to those in the Maddie series and Outsiders:
    • Ryan Hanson to Siobhan Pattinson. Both are prone to nervousness and have, or had at one point, messed up family lives, with their father being the main issue. Both meet someone who helps them out of their shell and exposes them to a more fun lifestyle. They also are proficient pianists.
    • Janie Hanzlicek to Ebony Larsson. Both are the more upbeat friend who helps the nervous one come out of their shell, and both exhibit traits of athleticism. They also have a strong sense of family heritage and duty.
    • Furthermore, the relationship between Janie and Ryan could be likened to the one between Andy Taylor and Maddie Grey from the Maddie series, with Ryan being a poor boy from a working class household in the city, and Janie being a rich girl from a wealthy mansion out in the country.
    • In terms of character design, Mátyás looks very similar to Matt from the Maddie series, considering his brown hair and glasses, and is referred to by his wife as Matt.
  • Family Honor: The Hanzlicek family, who have a strong sense of honour and heritage for their roots.
    • After Jinny has been impregnated by Simon as a teenager, the two are forced into a shotgun marriage and, to distance themselves from her disgrace, she is disowned.
  • Family of Choice: Ryan feels himself almost part of the Hanzlicek family when he visits them in Part 3.
  • Fell Off the Back of a Truck: Peter claims that the $20 in his possession just 'happened' to fall out of his dad's jacket pocket.
  • First Day of School Episode: Part 2.
  • Flashback: From Part 2 onward are used to convey images of Ryan's past. In each instance, Ryan's flashbacks are distinguishable through the colour of the comic becoming muted:
    • In Part 2, Ryan's history of abuse at the hands of his father is described in flashback when he admits the truth of his life to Janie.
    • In Part 3, Ryan reflects on the history surrounding the birth of his brother Mark.
    • In Part 4, there are several short-term flashbacks and one long-term flashback. In the first half of this volume, Ryan flashes back to when Janie proposed the idea of him joining her on her trip to Israel to witness her Bat Mitzvah, and also to the evening before he was set to depart with Janie, preparing his case with his mom and brother while also illustrating how riddled with guilt he is over lying to his family. The longer term flashback, which is only one page in length, shows how Ryan as a child cared for his infant brother, Mark.
    • In Part 5, there is an extensive, silent flashback that shows the childhoods of Jinny and Simon, as they evolve from immature pranksters, to lovers, and then fall terribly from grace as Simon accidentally impregnates her, leading to them being forced into a shotgun marriage and Jinny being disowned by her family, having to start afresh, with a little help from Josie, in the ruins of inner-city Baltimore.
  • Folk Music: A hippie guitarist attempts to impress his girlfriend with this in Part 1.
    • Much of Part 5 is taken up by a lengthy, completely silent flashback that shows how Jinny ruined her life and conceived Ryan by giving in to her lustful impulses and having sex with Simon on multiple occasions.
  • Forbidden Friendship: Ryan and Janie.
  • Free-Range Children: Despite the inherent danger of their hometown, Ryan and Mark are shown to wander the streets of Baltimore without supervision.
    • The same could be said with Janie and Natasha, as they are allowed to take Ryan boating, go trick-or-treating and walk into town without their parents.
  • Fridge Horror: In the book, it is stated that, by 1990, Mark and Ryan have been estranged for 12 years, meaning that something will happen during the course of the story that will result in the two brothers becoming estranged.
  • A Friend in Need: Ryan to Janie.
  • The Fundamentalist: Ryan encounters two on his travels, both his father, Simon Hanson, and Janie's uncle, Ephraim Hanzlicek. Both are highly religious men and both have strong opinions against people who aren't of their faith, with Simon having a strong hatred of Jews, though his reasons have yet to be specified, while Ephraim is untrusting of gentiles due to his experiences in World War II and the Arab-Israeli War of 1948.
  • Genius Bonus: After Ryan's arm is broken, he is seen the next morning reading Psalm 15 in the Bible (as commented on by Simon). Basically, the passage can be summed up as "Those who are righteous and caring will never be shaken." As Ryan himself is most likely feeling shaken at the moment due to his father breaking his arm, he could very well either be questioning, or trying to seek comfort in the passage.
  • Girls Like Musicians: Janie shows a real affection for Ryan's piano playing skills.
    • Played with further in Ryan's dream of her in Part 4.
  • Gotta Pass the Class: Played with in Part 4. After failing a test, this reduces Janie to tears, her reaction attributed to the fact that she does poorly at exams and tests, thus making her feel dumb.
  • Grand Romantic Gesture: At the end of Part 3, Ryan buys Janie a small, plastic light-up Menorah as a gift for having him stay at her house, possibly also as a romantic gesture.
  • Guilt Complex: Ryan has a severe one thanks to the lies he's been telling his family about his secret Jewish friend.
  • Halloween Episode: Part 3.
  • High School: Becomes Ryan's new home at the end of Part 1.
  • Hammered into the Ground: Simon throws Ryan to the floor with such force it breaks his arm.
  • Held Gaze: Between Janie and Ryan on several occasions throughout Part 3. This is lampshaded by Natasha during the first instance when she declares the two of them lovebirds.
  • Hereditary Hairstyle: Inverted. Ryan and Mark have very blonde hair, while Jinny is a redhead and Simon has brown hair.
  • Holding Hands: In a somewhat romantic gesture, Ryan puts his hand on Janie's while she's sleeping when they're aboard their flight to Israel in Part 4.
    • Are seen again doing it in the cover of Part 5.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Shirley, a hooker who lives on Ryan's street, is shown to be a kind and generous neighbor.
  • How Dad Met Mom: Mátyás explains to Ryan how he and his wife Justine met.
    • Shown in detail throughout Part 5 for Jinny and Simon.

    I - P 

  • I Don't Want to Ruin Our Friendship: Ryan confesses this is the reason why he defied his father's demand that he change dorm to get away from Janie.
  • I Just Want to Have Friends: Ryan admits this to Janie as he cries over the fact they can't be together.
  • "I Know What We Can Do" Cut: As Ryan asks what he and Janie's family are planning to do on his first day at their house, Janie mentions she has a few ideas in mind, whereupon it immediately cuts to them carrying a rowing boat out to the water for a day on the lake.
  • Implied Love Interest: At several instances throughout Part 3, there are general hints that Ryan and Janie are forming an emotional attachment to each other through longing stares.
    • Touched on further in Part 4, as Janie's uncle, Ephraim, suspects that the two may eventually be lovers, and warns Mátyás of this fact.
  • Important Hair Accessory: In Part 4, when visiting Israel, all the female members of the Hanzlicek family are required to wear headscarves for the purposes of modesty.
  • Improbable Sports Skills: Played with. In Part 2, Ryan is demonstrated to score a Home Run on only his second ever swing, leaving the opposing boy's team in disarray.
  • Indian Summer: Part 2 of the story is set in September, and the heat is illustrated as being so intense, even at night, that it keeps Janie up in a puddle of sweat.
  • Informed Obscenity: Ryan toys with this when Janie shows a curiosity in his knowledge of curse words, though no words are actually spoken.
    Janie: "Curse words? Like really 'bad' ones?"
    Ryan: "Mmm... yeah, the baddest ones of all."
    Janie: "You mean like... th-the S-word?"
    Ryan: "Worse than that."
    Janie: "Th-th-the F-word?"
    Ryan: "Even worse than that."
    Janie: "There's worse? Don't worry, you can tell me."
  • Injured Limb Episode: Almost the entire of Part 1.
  • Inner City School: Ryan's elementary school at the beginning of the series.
  • Innocent Swearing: Played with. While no swear words are actually said, Ryan toys with Janie's curiosity when he mentions he knows pretty much all swear words in the book due to his working class upbringing.
  • Interrupted Intimacy: Not so much interrupted, but in a flashback, a two-year-old Ryan does peer in on his parents after they've made love.
  • Irrational Hatred: Simon Hanson against his son, Ryan.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Jinny, in her younger years, was an immature prankster who ignored her sister and forced Simon into having sex with her. Still, it's hard to not feel sorry for her when she gets pregnant, as her family disowns her, she is forced into marriage before she's ready, and she winds up having to raise a child that her husband doesn't care much for. She also is a lot more caring towards Ryan and Mark, and it's clear that she doesn't want them to end up like she did. On the other side, Simon, while also being a delinquent who got in trouble with the law a lot when he was young, possesses some Woobie traits, like growing up a poor orphan, and getting in with the wrong crowd that helped him to make some of his decisions. However, any sympathy some may feel for him is thrown out the window due to his unapologetic treatment of Ryan.
  • Jump Scare: Natasha attempts to make Ryan jump by sneaking up on him in bed and waiting for him to wake up before shouting 'Boo!', it doesn't work.
    Natasha: "Boo!"
    Ryan: "Mmm... Hi, Natasha."
    Natasha: "Aww, come on, Ryan, weren't you scared?"
    Ryan: "Nope."
  • Leave the Two Lovebirds Alone: The implication of Natasha when she leaves Ryan and Janie alone in the spare bedroom after their first night together.
  • Life-or-Limb Decision: Ryan is left with this at the end of Part 2, predicated on whether or not he should lie to his family and go on a secret vacation with Janie to escape his torment at home. He ultimately accepts.
  • Long Last Look: Jinny, when she is forced out of her home, takes one last look at her childhood suburban house and family before being sent out into the world by her parents after she had become pregnant with Simon's child.
  • Longing Look: Janie and Ryan on multiple occasions in Part 3.
  • Looming Silhouette of Rage: When Simon bursts into Ryan's bedroom before dragging him away.
  • Meaningful Background Event: The first instance of when Simon began to abuse Ryan is illustrated in graphic detail.
  • Meaningful Look: When it's revealed by the family doctor that Jinny is pregnant with Simon's child, unlike the rest of her family, who are devastated, Josie gives a knowing look, clearly aware that something like this was bound to happen.
  • Meet Cute: Ryan and Janie's meeting at the end of Part 1, when Ryan accidentally walks in on Janie during her evening prayer.
  • Mistaken for Gay: While Ryan never does anything specifically that looks gay, due to his apparent lack of sporting prowess, he is often called a 'faggot' for not being as athletic as the other boys.
    • Most frequently happens with Scott, who looks for any opportunity he can to call Ryan a 'faggot', or try to find evidence of any gay connections he might have.
  • Modesty Towel: Ryan has to wear one while he and Janie sneak back from the bathroom after washing up.
  • Moment Killer: Natasha, when she breaks up Janie and Ryan's longing stare on the boat.
  • Moment of Weakness: Multiple instances throughout the series, either caused through the trauma of Simon and Jinny's arguments or from physical violence from Simon against his kids:
    • When Jinny states that he appears to be ready to mentally crack due to the abuse he suffers, Ryan, who is eavesdropping with Mark on the nearby stairs, begins to cry and almost breaks from the revelation. It's only the presence of his brother that pulls him out of his despair.
    • Another instance is when Ryan's train departs Baltimore on the way to boarding school, leaving his brother and mother behind. As he takes his last glimpse of them, the weight of his situation hits him, and he is nearly overcome with emotion. However, he is able to quickly recover and relax into the journey ahead.
    • In Part 2, Ryan wets himself in his sleep while Janie is in the dormitory with him, resulting in the pair undertaking a clandestine mission to the bathroom to clean him up.
    • After Ryan scores his first Home Run, a vision of his father flashes through his mind, and in a fit of primal panic he runs as fast as he can into the woods. Eventually, he stops and falls to the floor in tears.
    • In Part 4, after falling while playing soccer, Ryan suffers a nosebleed, and the sight of blood on his hand causes him to briefly flashback to when he was thrown down the stairs by his dad, causing tears to run from his eyes and for him to freeze in terror. It's only after some consolation by Janie that he's able to snap out of this trance.
    • Plenty for Jinny in Part 5. While she had often given into her mischevous inclinations, it was being overcome with lustful feelings towards Simon that ultimately led to her impregnation and subsequent disowning by her family.
  • Monochrome Past: Flashbacks in this series are often shown with more muted colors, although part of this is likely due to their often dark nature.
  • Mood Whiplash: Frequently. Scenes go from ones of joy and fun to pain and torment in the span of a page or two, mostly due to Ryan's rapid mood swings or events around him that throw the mood into discontent.
  • Moral Dilemma: Ryan is left with this when Janie offers to bring him home with her for Fall Break, thus lying to his family about where he's actually going.
    • Even more so in Part 4, when he lies to his family that he's going to California instead of Israel, the guilt of which keeps him up at night.
  • Morality Pet: Despite the hardships that Ryan faces in his life, he is still motivated to act happy around his brother Mark.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: The baseball game in Part 2.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Perhaps the most poignant is in Part 5, when the family doctor informs Jinny's family that she is pregnant, leaving Jinny with a shocking realisation that reduces her to tears.
  • Naked Freak-Out: Ryan, when Janie turns to face him while he's undressed.
  • Naked People Are Funny: Subverted. When Ryan ends up naked after wetting the bed, Janie treats this very seriously, and does what she can to clean him up and get him back into their dorm before anyone sees him.
    • Played with in Part 4 when Lars watches the movie with the other boys in just his underwear because his pajamas are in the laundry, only for Janie to point out that he could've watched the film in his normal clothes, leading to his embarassment.
  • Naked People Trapped Outside: Ryan technically ends up like this when Janie takes him outside the privacy of their dorm to wash him up after he wet himself, with the strong possibility of being caught by the other students.
  • Never Bareheaded: In Part 4 and 5, as part of their customs of modesty, all the female characters when out of doors wear headscarves that cover their hair, though not completely.
  • Neverending Terror: Ryan is haunted by the fear of his dad's abusiveness, so much so that he sees visions of him and hears his voice, causing him to fly into a panic.
  • New-Age Retro Hippie: Some are seen throughout the series; usually either off their face on drugs or playing hippie music.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: After Simon breaks Ryan's arm, Ryan has to make out that his injury is due to his own clumsiness.
  • Nightmare Sequence: Two are illustrated in Part 2 of the story.
  • Noble Male, Roguish Male: Ryan (Noble) is polite, soft-spoken and has strong ties to history and tradition, while Mark (Roguish) likes to use bad language and is seen to be something of a pervert.
  • Only Friend: Janie to Ryan.
  • Old-School Chivalry: Ryan shows he is determined to be polite and kind to his new friend Janie, even going so far as to pass her towel over the top of her cubicle to her so she doesn't have to expose herself when she leaves.
  • Parents as People: Mátyás and Justine.
    • Harris and Leah to their twin daughters Jinny and Josie.
  • Parental Issues: Ryan and Mark's violent relationship with their father.
  • Parental Obliviousness: Simon demonstrates this when he doesn't attend Ryan's birthday; instead having an all-day binge.
    • While it may have been due to them knowing Simon as a friend of Jinny's, allowing her to go alone with him in his car out into the countryside could constitute an act of obliviousness, perhaps because they were unaware that the two were romantically involved, or felt they could put their trust in their daughter not to get up to funny business.
  • Persecuted Intellectuals: Ryan, a notable bookworm, is called names and treated badly by Scott MacCready, a jockish boy who's better than him at sports.
  • Personal Horror: The guilt of Ryan's lies begins to stack up on him, especially in Part 4 after he lies to his family about going to California when in fact he's going to Israel, which keeps him up at night with worry. Eventually, he tries to talk to god in order to dispel his worries.
  • Picked Last: When Janie offers Ryan to the boys team as part of their baseball game, Scott MacCready, the boy's captain, snidely refuses, instead calling him a 'faggot'.
  • Prayer of Malice: The teaching's or Ryan's local vicar, who instills fear into his congregation while condemning the weak and useless to everlasting damnation.
  • Prayer Pose: The first thing Ryan sees Janie doing when they meet.
    • Ryan adopts this pose during a terrifying nightmare when he is confronted by Jewish and Christian symbols.
    • Ryan takes this pose briefly to say grace when dining with the Hanzliceks in Israel.
    • Ryan adopts the same in Part 4 when he has a crisis of faith, hoping to share his inner guilt and worries with god.

    P - Y 

  • Real Is Brown: Set in 1971, brown is represented prominently throughout the series.
  • Reality Ensues: For Simon and Jinny, their carefree life of mischief and pranking, later turning into a doomed sexual relationship, ultimately costs them everything as they are forced into a loveless shotgun marriage and burdened with a child they didn't want.
  • Red Light District: Essentially where Ryan lives in Baltimore.
  • Run or Die: Ryan, when he is confronted by a vision of his father after the baseball game.
  • Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: Ryan is shown to be quite downplayed and understated in his excitement, while Janie is loud, raucous and full of energy.
  • Scenery Porn: The comic captures a wide variety of long-gone scenes from the seventies, ranging from the idealized rural America of the Pennsylvania countryside to the urban ruin of Baltimore. And then there's [[spoler: the scenery of Israel]] in volumes 4 and 5.
  • School Sport Uniform: Worn by the students during gym class.
  • The Scream: Ryan, after Simon breaks his arm.
    • Another instance is when Ryan is thrown down the stairs by Simon.
  • Secret Relationship: After Jinny takes pity on a distressed Simon, leading to her kissing him, the two embark on a secret sexual relationship, pursued primarily by Jinny, as she leaves notes in Simon's desk telling him where they'll meet for a sexual liaison. Naturally, it ends badly.
  • Seven Dirty Words: Ryan plays with Janie's curiosity when he says he knows the worst swear words known to man, to which she eagerly wants to know. He doesn't tell her.
  • Sexless Marriage: While it is shown that Simon and Jinny have made love in the past in order to conceive Ryan and Mark, after the latter's birth and Simon's apparent rejection of him, Jinny has lost all physical or emotional affection for her husband, and now the two are barely on speaking terms, let alone having an intimate relationship.
  • She Is Not My Girlfriend: More a case with Janie, as her friends appear to bombard her with suggestions that she and Ryan are in love, which she flatly denies. Ryan, meanwhile, isn't asked about his potential feelings for Janie.
  • Shipper on Deck: Both Janie's sister Natasha and her friend Becky seem to be this for her and Ryan.
  • Shotgun Wedding: Simon and Jinny after she was accidentally impregnated by him.
  • Shout-Out: There are various references to pop culture throughout the series, including:
    • In Part 3, Janie, Ryan and Natasha are watching the Vincent Price horror film House on Haunted Hill.
    • In Part 4, as part of the sixth grade movie night, the boys dorm are watching Mackenna's Gold.
  • Shower Shy: Ryan has this concern when it comes time for he and Janie to wash up, primarily because she's a girl in a boy's dormitory.
  • Sibling Rivalry: A humorous one is examined between Janie's cousins, Tirzah and David Hanzlicek, who are constantly but playfully making jibes at each other.
    Tirzah: (Writing in the sand at the beach) "David is the Fattest"
    David: (Writing in the sand at the beach) "Tirzah is a Moron"
  • Sickening "Crunch!"!: Ryan, after Simon breaks his arm.
  • Single Mom Stripper: Shirley, after two boyfriends abandoned her when she was carrying their respective children.
  • Sleep Cute: In Part 4, on the flight between America and Israel, Janie uses Ryan's shoulder as a pillow, which he seems to find cute.
  • Slice of Life: The story largely follows the everyday lives of Ryan and Janie as they try to endure an ever-changing world.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: The series illustrates both the innocence of being young in the 1970s (before mobile phones and the internet), but also shows the urban, social and economic stagnation of the United States; especially in Baltimore.
  • Staircase Tumble: In a flashback, Ryan is thrown down the stairs by Simon during a drunken rage.
  • Sticky Fingers: Peter.
  • The Stoners: Seen on the third page of Part 1, where two hippies are seen slumped out unconscious against the front bumper of a wrecked car; lit reefers in evidence.
  • Stoners Are Funny: Due to the series being set in the early 1970s, there are no shortage of hippie's openly smoking drugs and getting up to weird antics as a result.
  • Street Walker: Plenty on Ryan's street.
  • Suspicious Spending: Played with. Peter steals $20 from his dad's jacket, and then spends it with his friends, Ryan and Frank, as soon as possible in order to cover up his crime.
  • Sympathy for the Hero: Janie spends much of Part 2 trying to understand why Ryan is in so much emotional distress, and is willing to listen when he finally has an emotional breakdown and admits the truth of his past.
  • "Take That!" Kiss: Janie gives Natasha one when she tries to sneak up on her after she arrives home in Part 3.
  • Taking the Bullet: After being caught spying on their parents argument, Ryan is captured by his drunken father and subsequently has his arm broken; allowing Mark to scamper away to safety.
  • Tap on the Head: After being thrown down the stairs by Simon, Ryan receives a large cut across his forehead.
  • Tear Jerker: Pretty much every scene involving Ryan, Mark and Jinny with their father/husband Simon.
    • During Part 5, when an impregnated Jinny is forced out of her home and into the cruel world with her shotgun groom, Simon.
  • Tears of Fear: Ryan on multiple occasions, both awake and when he's asleep.
  • Teen Pregnancy: Implied with Ryan's mother Jinny, who mentions that she and Simon were 16 the first time they made love. [[spolier: Confirmed in Volume 5]].
  • The Vicar: Ryan's local holy father, who's demonstrably passionate though bigoted as to his views on the Catholic faith.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Ryan is demonstrated to be a kind and caring person, but is constantly abused and hurt by his father.
  • Train-Station Goodbye: Happens in Part 1 when Ryan leaves for High School and has to say goodbye to his mother and brother on the platform at Baltimore.
  • Trauma Button: In Part 2, Ryan is suddenly thrown into a panic after scoring his Home Run during a baseball game, the implication being that just the act of associating himself with Janie - a girl he's been strictly told by his father not to be around because she's Jewish - is enough to uncap the fear of his father's wrath.
  • Troubled Backstory Flashback: As Ryan explains to Janie the truth of his violent background, this is visualized in the form of a flashback showing in detail the pain he has suffered.
    • Part 5 with Simon and Jinny.
  • Underdogs Never Lose: At the start of the baseball game, Ryan has never played before and is thus looked down upon by the other boys in the team. However, he soon scores himself a Home Run, shocking the boys and leaving them in total panic, allowing the girl's team to win.
  • Urban Hellscape: Baltimore.
  • Vacation Episode: Part 3.
    • Part 4 and Part 5, but this one has a little more of a purpose as it's in order for Janie to undergo her Bat Mitzvah.
  • The Vietnam War: The series is set against the backdrop of discontent caused by the Vietnam War, which helped fuel the social decay of American society during the 1970s. It is also shown through images on TV and mentioned.
  • Violence Is Disturbing: Ryan asks why his dad does such terrible, violent things to him, to which Simon responds by threatening him with death.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: Jinny gets multiple, two due to her suffering the effects of morning sickness, and another when she tries whisky for the first time and promptly brings it back up in a toilet.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Simon and Jinny were once best friends in their youth, but have now become the worst of enemies after being chained together in a shotgun marriage.
  • What Could Have Been: Originally, Janie was supposed to be a red-headed boy named Jamie Niemczyk. MacVeigh decided to change the character to Janie to add a different dynamic to the characters, and her last name became Hanzlicek so that alphabetically, she and Ryan would come close to each other on the register and thus have the same dorm room. The "Jamie" name remains as an alias for Janie to hide the truth about her from Simon.
  • Wild Hair: Ryan and Janie are usually left like this after exerting themselves, such as playing Baseball or swimming.
  • When You Coming Home, Dad??: Simon is frequently absent from family events due to his drinking addiction.
  • Woobie Family: Ryan, Mark and Jinny.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Simon has no qualms about violence towards his children, especially Ryan, who he even throws down the stairs.
  • Wretched Hive: Baltimore.
  • You Have to Have Jews: Janie Hanzlicek.
  • Your Worst Nightmare: Ryan has several terrifying dreams throughout the course of Part 2.

In the book

    A - R 

  • Adaptation Inspiration: The book, while following the same general story as the comic, expands greatly on the character of Ryan, making it a retrospective story by his older self rather than real-time as depicted in the comic. It also dives deeper into the wider decay of American society during the late sixties and early seventies to help set the scene.
  • All There in the Manual: The novelisation of the comic essentially gives greater background detail as to the scenes depicted, elaborating on character traits and histories in a way the comic doesn't.
  • The Alleged Car: Simon's Envoy Special sedan is described as being a rusty, broken down wreck.
    "Our chariot of choice was a clapped out, partially rusted Envoy Special sedan from the early sixties; its stout body and round headlights looking starkly out of place among the boxy, modern replacements that passed it on the open highway."
  • Amtrak: The formation of Amtrak is discussed during Part 3 as Janie and Ryan head north to her home in rural Connecticut.
  • The American Dream: A major theme that is explored more in the book than the comic is the concept of the American Dream and its place in the decaying society of the time.
    "The American Dream isn’t some kind of washed up movie actor; pensioned off to a dusty retirement home in southern California while occasionally making guest appearances when people start to feel nostalgic. It’s a real thing; a living part of our country’s spirit that can be bestowed – like a dream come true – on anyone."
  • Angry Black Man: Ryan states that due to the strong presence of the Black Panthers, he, his brother, and his friends, can't play safely outside for fear of being kidnapped or killed for either ransom or as a political statement.
  • Cool Car: The Dino 206 GT that Ryan encounters on the way to the Park with Simon.
    • The Alleged Car: A stolen Corvette which is dragged out of the lake at Druid Hill Park after being deposited there by the thieves.
    "A little way beyond, a stolen Corvette – unceremoniously deposited the previous night by a gang of joyriding youths – was winched ashore under the supervision of two policemen."
  • Darker and Edgier: Compared to the comic, the book goes into greater detail as to the scale of the social and urban decay, with coarser language and descriptions of events that help set the ruined scene:
    • In one example, Ryan describes the murder of a young girl as the reason why he and his friends always walk home in a group, especially during winter:
    "Two years prior, a young girl walking by herself had been lured into a car by a man asking for directions. She eventually turned up six months later in the Delaware River, barely recognisable as a human being. Without witnesses, the soulless beast who’d left her that way was never caught. Since then, we’d all taken extra steps to make sure none of us ended up the same way."
    • Though not obvious in the comic, Shirley - Ryan's neighbour - is elaborated on as a sex worker; the victim of two ex-boyfriends who abandoned her when she became pregnant with their children.
  • End of an Age: As part of the book's description of American society's decay during the late sixties and early seventies, many symbols of the national character are noted as ruined or dilapidated.
  • Fake American: Ryan is basically narrating the entire story in this version, but the audiobook is narrated by MacVeigh, who is British (and makes no attempt to hide his accent).
  • From Stray to Pet: Ryan describes how he and his brother found their pet dog, Chester, as a half-staved stray near their home, and how they decided to take him in as a pet.
  • It Began with a Twist of Fate: According to Ryan, the only reason he decides to recount his life is due to a letter from his long-estranged brother, Mark, who had spent years searching for him.
    "The decision to write this account of my life came suddenly; inspired by an unexpected letter received from my younger brother, Mark, about two weeks ago. This is the first time I’d heard from my brother for twelve years; apparently, he’d hunted me extensively in the hope that we may one day meet again."
  • Refuge in Audacity: Having stolen $20 from his dad's jacket, Peter attempts to use it in order to watch the recently released Klute at a nearby cinema, despite the fact that this is an R-Rated movie and all three of them are 10-years-old.
    "Since he’d procured the money in such an underhanded manner, the expectation was to take it as far as we could."


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