Parents' Guide to


By Matt Berman, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Graphic novel of teen misery -- authentic but mature.

Book Mariko Tamaki School 2008
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There's not much of a story in this b&w graphic novel, and what there is seems pretty familiar -- there's no shortage of teen misery in print. There are two things that make this stand out. One is the voice: this is about as close to the way teens speak and think as you will find anywhere in literature. Author Mariko Tamaki has a golden ear for the rhythms and cadences of teenspeak, the shifting emotional content, the sometimes abrupt, sometimes laconic, usually verbally inadequate expression of deep feelings.

The second is the incredibly expressive drawings, done in long, sinuous pen-and-ink lines that perfectly capture the body language of adolescents. The wary expressions and hunched shoulders of teens just trying to get through another day add layers of meaning and understanding beyond the text. Together, text and drawings capture a portrait of a developmental stage that will make adults wince with rueful memory, but that teens will recognize instantly.

Book Details

  • Author: Mariko Tamaki
  • Illustrator: Jillian Tamaki
  • Genre: School
  • Book type: Fiction
  • Publisher: Groundwood
  • Publication date: February 1, 2008
  • Publisher's recommended age(s): 14 - 14
  • Number of pages: 141
  • Last updated: July 12, 2017

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