Review: Skim by Mariko Tamaki, Jillian Tamaki

When I started down the wonderful path that is reading graphic novels last year, This One Summer by Mariko & Jillian Tamaki was one of the first works I checked out. So to have now finally read through Skim from cover to cover is beyond gratifying for me.

“Skim” is Kimberly Keiko Cameron, a not-slim, would-be Wiccan goth who goes to a private girls’ school. When Skim’s classmate Katie Matthews is dumped by her boyfriend, who then kills himself, the entire school goes into mourning overdrive. As concerned guidance counselors provide lectures on the “cycle of grief,” and the popular clique starts a new club (Girls Celebrate Life!) to bolster school spirit, Skim sinks into an ever-deepening depression.

And falling in love only makes things worse…

Suicide, depression, love, being gay or not, crushes, cliques, and finding a way to be your own fully human self–are all explored in this brilliant collaboration by cousins Mariko and Jillian Tamaki. An edgy, keenly observed and poignant glimpse into the heartache of being young.Skim 1-- bookspoilsSide note: I love it when the blurb really gets the core of the book right.

Skim‘s quick glimpse into an angst-ridden, strong-willed and intense young adult made me reminisce and feel grateful for making it through those years unscathed. But I also feel like the main themes that are prevalent in Skim, like the ever-present arc of mortality that’s circling the girls at school, were (somewhat fittingly) skimmed over. I didn’t feel like I had a solid grip on what the creators were trying to convey.

So I was disappointed that this graphic novel didn’t manage to leave a lasting impression, or hit any particular right notes for me, save for a page here and there. I didn’t feel invested because, as I mentioned, the topics that intrigued me the most, such as girlhood, coming-of-age, and depression weren’t explored to the fullest; we remained on the surface of things without budging.

Though I was left me unmoved for the most, I’ll end my review on a brighter note by sharing some of the pages that managed to spark something inside me:
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3/5 stars

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

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Review: Giant Days, Vol. 6 by John Allison

It felt so good to be back for another round of Giant Days, following our three wholesome “grown-up women in the modern world.”

Second year begins and Daisy, Susan, and Esther have taken their friendship commitment to the next level by moving into their “beautiful home”, off-campus. But the keys didn’t come without a whole new level of responsibility. Unwanted suitor visits, a robbery, and Susan living only a few blocks apart from her ex-boyfriend, McGraw has made the dorms feel like a haven. The girls are in for a dose of reality when they learn that there’s more to being an adult than paying your own rent.

This newest addition to the series was the most grown up we’ve seen our group. From crossing the brink of adulthood by hosting a fancy dinner party at their new home to dealing with unexpected tragedies happening all around. We’ve matured a lot as a group.Giant Days, Vol. 6 5-- bookspoilsThere’s a reason why Giant Days is the only comic series I actually bother to keep up with consecutively, and the answer lies mostly within the characters.

  • We have a new story arc centering around Daisy. From visiting her past to find out the reason behind her parents’ tragic and unforeseeable death, to watching her branch out and date her complete opposite in the present. I never tire of seeing Daisy Wooton have more “screen” time.Giant Days, Vol. 6 1-- bookspoils
  • In the meantime, with Daisy taking advantage of her youth, Esther has taken on the mom-friend duty with excellence.Giant Days, Vol. 6 2-- bookspoils
  • The humor is remarkably up to par in this newest volume, like, morbidly so.Giant Days, Vol. 6 3-- bookspoilsThe last panel actually made me laugh out loud.
  • Speaking of which, here’s another gem of classic comedy:

Giant Days, Vol. 6 4-- bookspoilsEsther’s comment “He’s going to break the toilet” broke me.

  • Finally, on a completely unrelated note, the tumultuous relationship between McGraw and Susan is unfortunately still happening. Though I’m secretly hoping they work things out in future issues, I’m still game for whatever direction the writers decide to head in.

3.5/5 stars

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying Giant Days, Vol. 6, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!

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!