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Librarian's Closet: Graphic Novels and Growing Up
Tomboy By Liz Prince
Publisher: Zest Books
From as far back as Liz can remember she's been a tomboy. She liked boy things and dressing as a boy. That made growing up difficult because girls had to be girls and boys had to be boys. Through a series of moves, friends, and just growing up, Liz learned what it meant to be a tomboy and what it meant to choose who you wanted to be.
Liz Prince makes a pretty concise explanation on the whole tomboy thing. It's not necessarily wanting to be a guy or doing it because it's cool. Plenty of girls like what's considered “boy stuff”. What makes a girl or a boy has nothing to do with interests or general appearance.
Liz admits that she was feeding the system of conformity as much as anyone whenever she looked down on the girls that were being girly. You can't beat the system with prejudice. Come on.
I personally like that some of my weirder tendencies growing up are actually quite normal. I used to bring stuffed animals with me in my backpack. I watched almost anything that had dinosaurs in it. Including Jurassic Park when I was still in diapers. It's just nice knowing that possibly everyone was at least a little weird.
Honor Girl by Maggie Thrash
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Maggie had been going to the same camp every year with the same traditions jut like her mother and hr grandmother. It wasn't until the summer she was fifteen that things changed. She aimed to get her Distinguished Expert in rifle shooting and she was falling for a nineteen year old counselor. Maggie had no idea how to handle these feelings and neither did the few people that found out. The other counselors wanted it kept quiet. One of her fellow campers thought she should act on it. Others gossiped. Let's hope she can handle it.
All of the girls in this graphic novel are pretty plain. It makes sense giving that they've all been going to the same camp for years and the curriculum never changes. I always end up getting sick of the teen novels that have the super rich and pretty people everywhere. I went to a regular high school and no one there was outstandingly pretty or rich. You get a lot of talk but we all knew it was a load of bunk.
The storytelling is fluid and concise. Maggie did an amazing job with explaining certain details without yammering. She gives us a quick recap on who the camp heartthrobs are, the Slog Boys. It's made clear what a Distinguished Expert is. And pretty much anything else that goes on in the story is touched on.
Probably my favorite thing about Honor Girl is that it's awkward. Growing up isn't all rainbows and clear skin. Teenagers are awkward and don't know what their own feelings mean half the time. They especially don't know how to communicate them so that they make sense to adults. I was a really embarrassed and shy kid. It's comforting to know I wasn't the only one, you know?
The Clique by Lisi Harrison and Yishan Li
Publisher: Yen Press
The Clique is a pretty standard story about two girls butting heads after one moves into town. Claire does not fit in the way Massie has and friction causes both girls to make poor choices in attempts to out do each other in both acquiring friends and sabotaging each other's reputations.. It'll take something big for them to come to an understanding but will even that be enough?
It uses pop culture and modern tech pretty well to push the story forward without a bunch of dialog. We got so many Mean Girl type stories that use the student body for rumors and chitchat and I think it gets old after a while. Plus these girls kept it pretty much within their circle so the rest of the school wasn't even involved for the most part.
Makes for a great palate cleanser. I've had those days where I read too much of the same stuff and sometimes you need something different. Assuming you don't already read this kind of teen fiction a lot, you'll be able to clear your mind a little of the fantasy, science fiction and murders that might normally saturate your library.
Smile by Raina Telgemeier
Raina's pubescent years were anything but easy. She had to get braces along with completely restructuring her mouth due to an accident that knocked two of her teeth out. She was dealing with crushes on two different boys. Her friends were less than friendly. Plus there were all the biological changes. There are plenty of lessons to learn and thankfully Raina's still around to tell her story.
When I was growing up, I was supposed to get braces. Didn't happen but since I was a teenager I had been just a little fascinated by them. I think it's because I didn't have that kind of awkward growing up phase. Anyway, it was nice that Raina had shared her experiences and didn't leave out most of the details. She didn't over-exaggerate either but I think that was due more to hindsight than anything else.
I like the fact that Raina admitted there were stupid things going on in her childhood. We've all done stupid things and had stupid things done to us. I feel most people tend to omit their mistakes or take other people's out of proportion. So that was cool.
She finally did something about her friends. I was in the same place she was where I was friends with people that weren't very nice to me. Only let them have power over me until I was well into my twenties. Learning what friends should really be like when you're still a kid makes life way easier and makes letting people go way easier.