Man, I am loving fall break. Being home for the first time in months is refreshing and relaxing for me. I’ve spent break eating food I didn’t have to buy/make, catching up with family, agreeing to be my sister’s maid of honor, watching the shows I recorded on my DVR, seeing friends, and (of course) reading. What more could I ask for?
Lighter Than My Shadow is the type of graphic novel memoir that will take your breath away and make your heart ache. This story follows the life of Katie Green as she struggles with eating disorders, fitting in, negative thoughts, and sexual abuse. Green takes traditionally taboo topics and brings them to life on the page, bravely telling her story of struggle and recovery. She is not afraid to take readers into the depths of pain and her innermost thoughts. From her train of thought during a binge to opening up old wounds caused by those she trusted, Katie Green bears it all and shows readers that strength is within even when it seems the bleakest. Lighter Than My Shadow was an emotionally tough read, but it was eye-opening to say the least.
What does it mean to be a girl in society today? Does it mean pink dresses and dollhouses, or is there something more? Liz Prince explores the topic of gender conformity and norms in her graphic novel memoir Tomboy. In it, readers follow Prince as she grows up. From refusing to wear a dress to being mistaken for a boy at all ages, this read is both entertaining (Prince is hilarious) and important. People tend to see what is on the outside, but Prince challenges us to look deeper as she tells her story about finding out who she truly is. Tomboy takes readers through friend drama, bullies, cooties, gender, and the all-important ball cap. Does she hate girls, or does she hate the societal expectations placed on them? Join Prince as she wrestles with these questions and, as one review puts it, “tells gender norms to eat dirt.”
American Born Chinese has to be one of the most thought provoking graphic novels I’ve read so far this semester. The novel focuses on three distinct stories: Jin Wang, a boy desperate to fit in when it seems like all he can do is stand out; the monkey king, master of kung fu who is never satisfied with what he has; and Chin-Kee, the stereotypical Chinese character in any 80’s sitcom (Sixteen Candles, anyone?) who is the comic relief while visiting his cousin, Danny. As the novel progresses, the stories weave together in an unexpected but brilliant twist that shocked me. As the characters struggle to find their footing and be treated fairly, readers are exposed to racial stereotypes that are present in society. Pieces of this story reminded me of Kip Fulbeck’s Paper Bullets, which discusses what it’s like to live in a place that ignores multiracial (in his case, Hapa) identity.
Last, but certainly not least, comes John Green’s new novel Turtles All the Way Down, the novel I have been waiting months for. The story centers around Aza’s life and mental health along with the adventures she pursues with her friend, Daisy. When the pair hears about a $100,000 reward for finding Aza’s old friend, Davis’s, dad, they begin chasing answers to a mystery that might not want to be solved. Filled with Star Wars references and veiled One Direction mentions, TATWD is a must read. One of my favorite pieces of John Green’s writing is his refusal to water down characters. I always feel like he treats each character with the complexity deserved, refusing to use YA as an excuse to not give a full, adequate portrayal. In this novel, Green sticks to this trend more than ever. TATWD dives deep, placing readers directly into Aza’s mind to read her anxieties, inner turmoil, and to follow her spirals. I can’t stress enough how necessary this novel is. Be watching for a follow up post coming soon!
For now, I’ll be enjoying my final hours of break and family time. 🙂