This was intended to be a mini-reviews post, but… I rambled quite a bit about both books! I thought I’d keep them together in a post, though, as they were the first graphic novels I’ve read this year. (And they’ve really set the bar high for the others I’ll read in 2015…)
Tomboy By Liz Prince, published by Zest Books.
Goodreads Synopsis: Growing up, Liz Prince wasn’t a girly girl, dressing in pink tutus or playing pretty princess like the other girls in her neighbourhood. But she wasn’t exactly one of the guys, either. She was somewhere in between. But with the forces of middle school, high school, parents, friendship, and romance pulling her this way and that, “the middle” wasn’t exactly an easy place to be. Tomboy follows award-winning author and artist Liz Prince through her early years and explores–with humor, honesty, and poignancy–what it means to “be a girl.”
My Review: This has got to be one of the most relatable books I’ve ever read. I have so much love for Tomboy. The graphic novel documents Liz Prince’s childhood and teenage life; the great bits and the not-so-great bits, and does so through some of the most enjoyable illustrations I’ve come across.
I felt a lot like Liz while I read this: And even if you weren’t a tomboy growing up, the book is easy to relate to on an emotional level still. All through growing up, Liz prefers what’s considered the “boyish” things, like trousers and comics and monster trucks. The illustrations perfectly document how she felt, being expected to behave and present in a certain way.
It’s a graphic memoir about finding ways to fit in – but it’s also a graphic memoir that explores a topic I haven’t seen written about much – gender expectations. I’m always pretty vocal on this topic IRL – I find the whole thing where people are expected to be a certain way based on their birth gender really. So, I’m really glad this book explores what it means to “be a girl.”
I can’t recommend this highly enough – it’s a truly unforgettable read, and after finishing, I’d really love to read both more graphic memoirs like it, and books exploring the same themes of gender. Liz is such a great writer and illustrator; Tomboy was moving, poignant and also quite funny at points. 😀
Lost at Sea By Bryan Lee O’Malley, published by Oni Press.
Goodreads Synopsis: Raleigh doesn’t have a soul. A cat stole it – or at least that’s what she tells people – or at least that’s what she would tell people if she told people anything. But that would mean talking to people, and the mere thought of social interaction is terrifying. How did such a shy teenage girl end up in a car with three of her hooligan classmates on a cross-country road trip? Being forced to interact with kids her own age is a new and alarming proposition for Raleigh, but maybe it’s just what she needs – or maybe it can help her find what she needs – or maybe it can help her to realize that what she needs has been with her all along.
My Review: I am such a fan of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s work: I have been ever since I first watched Scott Pilgrim Vs The World, then discovered the graphic novels that inspired it! Lost at Sea was O’Malley’s début standalone graphic novel (if I’m right!) so I ordered a copy, eager to read something of his that wasn’t Scott Pilgrim-related.
Once I’d started this, I didn’t want to stop, and I didn’t want it to finish. I could’ve ridden alongside Raleigh and the others on their road trip forever. I loved the concept of the story, and plot was both mysterious and moving: it was interesting to see how all of the character’s relationships developed as simultaneously Raleigh reveals her past to the reader.
The illustrations were absolutely gorgeous, as was the narration. Raleigh’s voice was really wistful-feeling and poetic in places, though it’s juxtaposed by some hilarious dialogue. I felt very much like Raleigh at parts: She’s an instantly understandable character, being young and confused and introverted, but with so much happening inside of her mind.
On the blurb of my copy, it says “if you’ve ever been eighteen, or confused, or both, maybe you should read this book.” And that’s pretty much the best way to sum it up. Also, if that hasn’t swayed you: There is a scene involving both an existential crisis and a midnight cat-hunt. Sold now? Thought so. 😀
I purchased copies of Tomboy and Lost At Sea online.