Review: Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo and Me by Ellen Forney

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I’ve had my eye on this particular graphic memoir before, but decide just this past week to finally give it a go. I was beyond grateful to see myself so easily immerse into the intensely personal world presented in Marbles.

Darkly funny and intensely personal, Forney’s memoir provides a humorous but authentic glimpse into the effects of a mood disorder on an artist’s work, as she shares her own story through black-and-white graphic images and prose.Marbles 12-- bookspoils

I went into this expecting a similar kind of storytelling presented in Fun Home by Alison Bechdel, but this graphic novel ended up differing for me in its achingly honest representation of living with a mental illness, along with exploring the author’s bisexuality. It also raises to light the significance of answering questions through a mix of research, storytelling, and honesty. From exploring the stereotype behind the “crazy artist” to questioning if bipolar disorder & creativity are actually linked, and answering the big one of: “If I take meds to prevent my mood swings, am I choosing to be less creative?”.

This is a deeply complex, dark, personal, raw, fully fleshed graphic memoir unlike anything I’ve read in the past. Towards the end, in particular, when the issues raised were part medical, part philosophical was when the memoir left me most grounded.

“It was a relief to discover that aiming for a balanced life doesn’t mean succumbing to a boring one.”

And I think now is a good place to let the work speak for itself by sharing some of my favorite pieces:

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I’ll cherish this educational, eye-opening, and personal read for a long time to come. By the end of it, Ellen Forney even shares an accurate visual of reaching that dreaded ending in your favorite books:

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4/5 stars

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying Marbles, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!

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Review: I Hate Everyone But You by Gaby Dunn, Allison Raskin

I Hate Everyone But You chronicles a series of texts and emails sent between two best friends, Ava and Gen, as they head off to their first semesters of college on opposite sides of the country. From first loves to weird roommates, heartbreak, self-discovery, coming out and mental health, the two best friends will document every moment to each other. But as each changes and grows into her new life, will their friendship be able to survive the distance?

I’ll start off by saying that reading this book was probably the most FUN I’ve had in ages with fiction. I practically couldn’t wipe the smile off my face for the entirety of my reading experience. I Hate Everyone But You is perfect for fans of We Are OkayGena/ Finn, and Queens of Geek. That is to say: This book is an entirely character driven story, and like We Are Okay the premise is about two best friends in college, but we also have the shenanigans shared in Queens of Geek. I read through it in a whirlwind.

I will admit, however, that it took some time to get fully into the swing of things with the characters. But I was pretty sold once we had that one random scene at the beginning of the book where Gen tried cocaine in the bathroom with her new “friend.” It truly left me both baffled and in fits. Particularly when I recalled this fittingly iconic Christine Sydelko vine:

“Overall, I would give cocaine 2 stars.”

But once I was into it, I really was in… From clickbait-worthy titles for emails, relatable budding crushes (“I like him so much. I hope he can’t tell.”), mental health, weird therapists in training, exploring your sexuality and labels, growing into yourself, the complexity behind friendships, finding your friend’s crush online at the speed of light (I’m still laughing @chinatownjake98), and so much more that left me both reeling and feeling alive.

The dialogue (entertaining as hell, by the way) shared between Ava and Gen just began to flow so easily overtime, and I genuinely felt included on the fun and on the conversation, without actually having to experience any of the things they went through, which is low-key my heaven.

“Grow! Flourish! Experiment with things so I don’t have to.”

Also, the one-liners in here are something else. You would think that only one character would properly succeed at them, but that’s thankfully not the case with I Hate Everyone But You. On one side of the coin, we have screenwriter Ava Helmer who’s not afraid to tell it like it is:

“I just spent three hours gluing sparkle Greek letters to a poster board while twenty other girls gossiped about The Bachelorette like the contestants are real people and not robots hired by a massive corporation to fulfill their given duties and then disappear into minor Instagram fame.”

And then we also have journalist Genevieve Goldman, whom I admire for a plethora of reasons, but mainly because she’s impossible to define without using her own words one too many times:

“Where do I fall, you might ask? I don’t subscribe to labels. Unless I’m labeling other people.”

Their friendship, however, is the epitome of unconditional love. They can always count on one another to put everything in perspective. Plus, they never fail to be there on the other’s side when needed. It was inspiring to experience from the sidelines.

“Not everyone hits it off immediately. I fear that I’ve ruined you for other women. I am the best. We all know that. Sometimes you have to settle”

Whether it’s bringing Ava out of her spiralling mind by reminding her of how utterly incredible she is and how she don’t need no man, or by partying it up like a true college kid… Genevieve Goldman is a piece of art.

“Just remember: Jake is a typical college guy who barely knows how to take care of himself. Your self-worth should not hang in the balance of his New Balances.”

I feel like the only way I can visually show what their conversation left me like is through the one and only Jean-Ralphio:

“Quick question: Remember winter formal sophomore year when you told Chris R. to kiss me and then he did on our way home and I didn’t realize that you could breathe through your mouth while kissing and I suffocated? Does that have to count as my first kiss?”

Have I mentioned that I like Ava?

Also, on a more serious note, I cannot stop thinking about this next passage talking about Ava’s behavior with her caring parents:

“I hate that I am my worst self around the two people who are nicest to me. I’m unable to keep my barriers up when I’m around my parents, so all the ugly comes out. Even when I’m mad, I can feel the guilt spreading through my body, but the mad overrides it.

I always apologize once it’s passed, but that’s not good enough. I’m 18. I can’t freak out on my lovely, supportive parents anytime they say something I don’t like. I’ve put them through enough. She literally drove an hour to drive me 20 minutes and then sit in the waiting room while I went into another room and complained about her. I am a terrible person.”

These lines really just made me travel back in time to that exact emotion.

But on a more lighthearted note, the surprising fourth wall break dropped in the novel regarding Just Between Us made me shriek. Which pretty much sums up the entirety of my reading experience, thinking “Why can’t I stop smiling? What is this sorcery?”

And though the ending did feel a tiny bit rushed with so much left in flux at the last minute, I still seriously applaud the authors for making 352 pages fly by without me even looking up from the book.

Last but not least, I also listened to this next charming song during my reading time.

5/5 stars

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying I Hate Everyone But You, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!

Review: Hi-Fi Fight Club #1 by Carly Usdin

I found this girl-power comic at the back of Misfit City #2 nearly two months ago and was immediately intrigued by the beautiful cover and premise of “a music-infused, action-adventure series that takes rock ’n’ roll fandom out of the record store and into the streets.”Hi-Fi Fight Club #1 1-- bookspoilsNew Jersey, 1998. Chris has just started the teen dream job: working at Vinyl Mayhem, the local record store. She’s prepared to deal with anything-misogynistic metalheads, grunge wannabes, even a crush on her wicked cute co-worker, Maggie. But when Rory Gory, the staff’s favorite singer, mysteriously vanishes the night before her band’s show in town, Chris finds out her co-workers are doing more than just sorting vinyl…her local indie record store is also a front for a teen girl vigilante fight club!

So my expectations were set pretty high for this first issue, just because Hi-Fi Fight Club had such a unique and promising setting. Hi-Fi Fight Club #1 2-- bookspoilsBut this introducing piece felt more like a setting-everything-up-for-future-issues than something of its own where we get to see the girls together just talking and hanging out. But since it’s only issue #1 and I know that my expectations are way too high, I’m going easy on it.

I am excited, however, to see what the follow-up pieces will entail for our group of strong female individuals. I’m just hoping we’ll get to see some character building between the girls. (I’m pretty stoked about Irene, Kennedy, and Dolores.)

3.5/5 stars

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying Hi-Fi Fight Club #1, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!