Review: Real Friends by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham

Real Friends 12-- bookspoilsI’ve had my eye on this graphic novel memoir set in the 80s for awhile now, so I was beyond keen on getting my reading on. I sped through this thrilling ride in one big whirlwind.

When best friends are not forever . . . 

Shannon and Adrienne have been best friends ever since they were little. But one day, Adrienne starts hanging out with Jen, the most popular girl in class and the leader of a circle of friends called The Group. Everyone in The Group wants to be Jen’s #1, and some girls would do anything to stay on top . . . even if it means bullying others.

Now every day is like a roller coaster for Shannon. Will she and Adrienne stay friends? Can she stand up for herself? And is she in The Group―or out?

This book, to be honest, made me feel utterly frightened for my nine-year-old sister. Like, what kind of fresh hell is going on in the American education system where the amount of bullying Shannon went through in the fourth grade was completely overlooked to the point of oblivion.Real Friends 9-- bookspoils

This is frightening… The amount of pain and suffering school can bring to a child made me that feel sure about my decision to homeschool.

I was then also gobsmacked by the abuse Shannon experienced at the hands of her older sister, looking to alleviate her own pain by putting it all on this little girl. I mean, if it’s unacceptable to hit a nine-year-old stranger, then it sure as hell is unacceptable to hit your own sister.Real Friends 1-- bookspoilsI’m still shellshocked at this panel.Real Friends 10-- bookspoils This poor kid experienced utter terror in her own home. Shannon ran to hide just at the sound of Wendy’s voice and that had me nearly in tears.

Please, treat your younger siblings with all the love and respect you have.

Shannon’s perspective gave us a very keen look on her girlhood, and it made me understand certain outbursts kids might have with a more clear eye. Like, when she was “playing” with her siblings and starts crying when caught, not at her loss but at the overwhelming build-up of emotions from feeling left out. It made me remember that kids tearing up isn’t usually about the situation at hand but about something much deeper in their heads that only they have the knowledge about. And it’s our jobs to show them that they can trust us enough to share their thoughts.Real Friends 13-- bookspoils On a more uplifting note, Real Friends has some incredible art that I’d like to highlight by sharing a few favorite panels of mine:Real Friends 3-- bookspoilsReal Friends 4-- bookspoilsReal Friends 6-- bookspoilsReal Friends 7-- bookspoilsReal Friends 11-- bookspoils

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

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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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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!

Review: Bunk 9’s Guide to Growing Up by Adah Nuchi

“The Sisterhood needs to know!”

Exclaimer: As a big sister, but foremost as a female, I’m over the moon excited that guides like Adah Nuchi’s, full of girl power, exist in the world for all to read from young to old.

Based on the lively conceit that it’s written by nine older girls at a fictional summer camp who share their collective been-there, done-that experiences, Bunk 9’s Guide to Growing Up is a puberty book with a twist, an entertaining, up-to-date, supportive guide that covers the head-to-toe changes that young girls go through as they grow up.

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I don’t know how, but before starting Bunk 9’s Guide I’d somehow forgotten for a minute there that my little sister is set to go through puberty pretty soon, just like all the youngins, which to be frank still blows my mind. So knowing that I now have the opportunity to share this noteworthy, feminist guide to help even a little in the near future is something that definitely takes the weight off my shoulders.

“One of the best things about womanhood is sharing your experiences with other women…”

This realistic and all-inclusive read feels like a mix for fans and young readers of Judy Blume and Rookie Mag. That is to say: it’s a great way to start the conversation between parents/ guardians and their kids going through puberty. I truly wish I had something similar to rely on in my times of heavy confusion in everything relating my life during puberty. This felt like some much-needed closure. So I’m thankful for the umpteenth time for the existence of Bunk 9’s Guide to Growing Up with its pun-worthy title chapters and it being out there for readers in need.

Conversations circling the topics of puberty, hygiene, breasts, menstruation and the reproductive system, boys, health, and feelings… We also have mentions of period parties, treating pimples/zits/acne, social media, crushes and hormones, and how to “get through friendships, parents that drive you crazy, and new crushes…” Bunk 9's Guide to Growing Up 2-- bookspoilsI’m beyond excited and grateful with every fiber of my being that this fun, comforting, and enlightening read is out there ready to give you the support you need.

And to end this review, I’d like to share this fitting and hilarious Christine Sydelko vine on puberty:

ARC kindly provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Expected publication: December 19th, 2017

4/5 stars

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying Bunk 9’s Guide to Growing Up, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!