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Welcome to St Hell by Lewis Hancox - Review

Saturday, April 8, 2023

I know who Lewis Hancox is from TV and from twitter, but I didn't know he had written a book until my friend Jane visited in February and mentioned this book. I immediately bought a copy on eBay and took it with me on a mini break to the east coast. I started and finished it in the same day because it's really compelling and interesting, and also because as a graphic novel it's easy to read. 

So Lewis is a trans man and has been out since he was nineteen, but before that everyone thought he was a girl and he had previously identified as a lesbian - there's a really funny bit where his dad says he had to come out again as straight when he came out as a man, which I really liked the inclusion of. Lewis has been really brave in coming out with his story and his deadname, I think. He skilfully shows how difficult he found being a teenager, especially in somewhere like St Helens where any kind of difference is seen as odd and often subjected to bullying. I really related to Lewis' depiction of how he tried to fit in as a teenager and how difficult it was. When he went to sixth form college he did start to find himself a bit which was lovely to see. 

The graphics are really nice and there's some inside jokes about them too, like about how Lewis' mum always appears in her dressing gown. Pages that are edged in black are when Lewis himself appears - as older Lewis - when he's trying to tell his younger self something. I liked the artwork. 

I also like the depiction of how hard it was to be a teen and why; I related to this and I think a lot of readers will even if they aren't trans. You still understand not feeling 'right'. This is a brilliant addition to both graphic novels and to queer literature. I really hope Lewis writes/draws something else because I really think he could! I'm giving this five out of five, and I'm also going to be lending it to a bunch of people! 

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