Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea

“When a car came down the street, they all rose and moved their chairs up onto the curb so the car could pass.  The didn’t notice that one of the cars was the big narco LTD.  ‘Adios!’ they called, then moved their chairs back into the narrow street.  Nayeli watched everybody on the curb. She looked very carefully.  And she realized Tacho was right.  There was nobody left in town but women, old men, and little children.”

The men in Nayeli’s isolated Mexican village have all left to seek work in America.  Life continues: she works at the taco stand, helps her aunt campaign for mayor, and goes to movies at the only theater in town.  However, when drug dealers invade the town, she decides she must be the one to act.  She and her friends set out for a small town in Illinois, to find her father and bring him and the other village men back to protect their home.

This is one of the books I’m reading for my presentation at the Colorado Teen Lit Conference! I’m presenting on a trend in queer literature:  now books about LGBT teenagers aren’t always just about coming out.  Instead, there is a movement towards books with queer youth who are already out and doing amazing things like having adventures or solving mysteries.  While Nayeli is straight, her best friend (and owner of “The Fallen Hand”, the taco stand) is Tacho, is.  He demands and receives acceptance for himself in the midst of a hyper-masculine village culture.  His gayness, while mentioned, isn’t central to the story.   I think it shows a normalization of queer youth: their identities no longer have to center around their sexual orientation alone.

Anyway, there are three reasons why this book is awesome.  Firstly, it is a great concept for a story: teenagers crossing the border illegally to bring back men to their home town.  Secondly, Luis Alberto Urrea’s writing is beautiful.  He’s written eleven books, and won many awards for them.  He is poetic, but not overly so, and intersperses the story with non-didactic commentary on relations between the United States and Mexico.  Finally, it combines three of my favorite things: queer characters, minority characters, and road trips!  Excellent!

Happy Reading!

Urrea, Luis Alberto.  Into the Beautiful North. New York: Little, Brown & Co, 2009. 338 p. Ages 15-18.

Author’s website: http://www.luisurrea.com/

If you liked this book, you might like Moloka’i by Alan Brennert, or you could try The House on Mango Street  by Sandra Cisneros.  (Moloka’i is for the adventure-lost-father aspect, and The House on Mango Street is about a Hispanic family in Chicago.  If you like stories about queer characters that are not about coming out, you could try Sprout, and if you like queer characters AND road trips, you could try A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend!

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Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

This book is too good: I had to start with more than one quote!

Mom: “It’s more than that, sweetheart.  Every time you use new Lady ‘Stache Off with triple beauty action, you’re contributing to our economy, our way of life.  Don’t you want to be a contributor to our economy?  Don’t you want to make sure we can have bikinis, cable, and porn?  What are you, a communist?”

A Word from your Sponsor: “The Corporation would like to apologize for the preceding pages.  Of course, it’s not all right for girls to behave this way.  Sexuality is not meant to be this way-an honest, consensual expression in which a girl might take an active role when she feels good and ready and not one minute before.  No. Sexual desire is meant to sell soap. And cars. And beer. And religion.”

A plane full of Miss Teen Dream beauty contestants crash lands on a deserted island.  Armed with sequined evening gowns, safety razors, and mascara wands, the young women begin to set up home in the wilderness.  As they are doing so, they uncover conspiracies and corporate abuses of power (Ladybird Hope, head of The Corporation and presidential candidate) is involved in illegal arms trade, and is setting up the plane crash as a ratings boost.  There are pirates, mangy snakes, homemade weaponry, gummy bears, and so much satire that it will blow your mind.

I almost didn’t know how to take this book: there was just so much going on in it!  But not in a bad way; it’s just simply stunning.  In the hands of a lesser author, this could be a disaster, but with Printz award-winner Libba Bray, it’s a minor masterpiece.  She subverts the cutthroat-girl-competition paradigm and writes instead about girls celebrating each other and working together to achieve a common goal (that is, not getting eaten by snakes in the jungle).  The girls discuss identity questions, gender expectations, societal pressures, and consumerist culture, but all in this almost wacky setting, against the backdrop of the island and the looming Corporation.

The book is formatted like a television show, with commercials, Fun Facts pages for each of the young women, alternate endings, and a series of hilarious footnotes.  Bray is both ruthless and clever in her satire: she undermines consumerism by showing us all how ridiculous it can be when taken to its logical extreme.  Careful readers will notice gems such as George Bush’s infamous “misunderestimate”, and several nods to Sarah Palin.  It’s witty, zany, and so multi-layered that I feel like I need to read it again in order to fully appreciate it.  My very favorite parts were where The Corporation would directly address the readers.  Hi-la-ri-ous!

Oh, and did I mention the great characters?  Oh yeah-there’s a lesbian. A transgender girl, a girl who got into the pageant only because she wants to destroy it and everything it represents.  There are girls figuring out their sexual identity.  There are girls dealing with how their minority status excludes them from larger society.  There’s a hearing-impaired girl who is sick of pretending it’s perfectly all right that she’s got a disability, just so she doesn’t make everyone else feel guilty.  The best part is that there are no stock characters in this novel:  everyone is well-developed and acts in a realistic way.  I loved that the two queer girls didn’t fall in love, because you know what? That’s what happens in real life.

This is an intelligent look at capitalism and expectations of women in society, mixed with a lot of madcap action and appealing characters.  I think you’ll like it!

Happy Reading!

Author’s website: http://libba-bray.livejournal.com/

Bray, Libba. Beauty Queens. Scholastic: New York, 2011. 396 pp. Ages 15-18.

 

 

Down to the Bone by Mayra Lazara Dole

“I shouldn’t have come to a gay beach.  That was wacko of me.  Here I am, terrified of people thinking I’m a tortillera. I was thrown out my school and my house for loving a girl, and what do I do?  I come to a gay beach for the first time in my life.  I’m just the most brilliant kid on the block.”

Do you know how I know when to put a book on the All Time Awesome-est List?  It’s when I’m seriously let down when the book is finished, when I feel like there’s no way the next book will compare to it.  Well, here it is, friends: meet the new addition to the List: Mayra Lazara Dole’s Down to the Bone.

On the last day of eleventh grade, Laura gets caught reading a love letter in class at her Catholic school.  Worse still, the letter is from a girl, her secret girlfriend of two years.  The nuns drag her to the office, call her mom, and in the same day, she gets kicked out of both her school and her house.  Worst of all, her girlfriend gets shipped off to marry a guy! So that’s no school, no home, and no love…you’d think it would be the end of the world, but Laura works it out, with the help of a colorful (and still authentic) cast of characters

This book sparkles with enthusiasm.  Laura is sassy, funny, and passionately devoted to her friends and little brother.  (She even sneaks in to see him at his school when her mother refuses to let her visit).  During the course of the story, she has to make some difficult choices: coming out, when it might mean that her mom could never speak to her again, or just trying (like her ex-girlfriend, Marlena) to find a guy and live the straight life, because it’s too scary to lose everything.  However, even though she’s really struggling with her identity and feelings, the book doesn’t ever bog down into the “This is Just a Coming-Out Book” pit.  It’s fresh-and that’s mostly thanks to Laura’s hilarious commentary (Dole is a master with dialogue!)  and the great supporting characters.

I love it!  I love it because it features a Cuban lesbian as main character.  The food, the Miami beach culture, the Cuban influences, and the slang all make this book delicious and fun.  But I love it even more because it’s a very honest portrayal of the coming-out process.  For example, Laura tries hard to date a boy, but she ends up just feeling like she can’t get close to him emotionally, even though she doesn’t dislike kissing him.  The story lets you get close to Laura in that way, by following her thoughts, and she’s so positive and funny that you just fall in love with her!  I also like that Dole lets the readers get a little nervous:  I know that when Laura is waffling about coming out to her mom (I won’t ruin it for you, though), I was rushing through the book, because I was afraid she wouldn’t be able to do the Brave Thing.

This is an ALA Rainbow List  (a great list of GLBTQ books for young people) Starred selection, and was also nominated for the ALA Best Books list, as well as the winner of the Americas award, for its portrayal of Latinas in the United States.  Good stuff!

Happy reading!

Author’s website: http://mayraldole.wordpress.com/  (She has a blog on Goodreads, too)

What’s even better is that she has a new book coming out next year! Wooohooo!

Dole, Mayra Lazara. Down to the Bone. New York: HarperTeen, 2008. 351 pp.

Punkzilla by Adam Rapp

“Man my stomach feels twisted in knots.  I just hope I get to Memphis ok so I can see you P. My hand is mad killing me too so I’m going to end this letter.

I just heard an announcement that we’re getting close to some place in Idaho where we’ll get like a half hour to walk around and get something to eat.

Maybe that lady with the shower cap will give me another cigarette if I’m nice to her? Maybe I should tell her my name is Shirley?

Love,

Jamie

P.S. I can’t believe you’re dying.  Please don’t die.”

Jamie, or Punkzilla, as his friends call him, has to get to Memphis.  His older brother, Peter, is dying of cancer.  Peter wrote and sent him enough money for a Greyhound ticket to visit.  So Jamie leaves the streets of Portland, and sets out across the country, trying to make it to Memphis before Peter’s death.  Jamie writes Peter throughout the journey, carefully documenting the entire trip for him, in a series of unmailed letters crammed in a fat notebook.

It’s quite a trip, too: stories of being jumped in the bus station bathroom, being mistaken for a girl repeatedly, losing his virginity, musings on his history of petty crime, God, and the nature of the world, and wrenching descriptions of hunger and loneliness fill the epistles.  The tales are frequently seamy (Peter admonishes Jamie to be honest, and not hold anything back in the letters), and the sheer danger of the situation is apparent.  Jamie has some chilling run-ins with child predators, and puts himself at risk of harm repeatedly.

That said, there is a distinct buoyancy to the letters:  Punkzilla’s disarming tone evokes Charlie’s voice in The Perks of Being a Wallflower.  In fact, there are a lot of similarities between the two works: the epistolary form, the intimacy that first person narrative creates, the outcasted speakers, the brutal honesty of the letters.  I instantly adored Jamie (just like I felt about Charlie!), and I love the way Rapp uses filler words and little punctuation and creative grammar to craft Jamie’s voice.  It’s really great, and creates this perfect image of a skinny kid, trying to be street smart, gone AWOL from military school and on the way to visit his dying brother.

This book is a Printz honor book!  Please check it out! I read it in two hours, as my mom and I were driving through the blazing white heat of New Mexico, as she moved me back home to wait for my Canadian visa to come through.  I was alternately crying over leaving my friends and panicking over the future, but the experience of reading such a great road trip book while I was actually on a road trip was incredible.  Come on, guys! Get in your cars (or on your bicycles/llamas/covered wagons/flying batboats) and let’s go on a trip-and take this awesome book with you!

Happy Reading!

Rapp, Adam.  Punkzilla. Candlewick Books: Somerville, 2009. 244 pp.  Ages 15 and up.  Drugs, sex (including abuses of power by adults), violence, and general mischief.

Briar Rose by Jane Yolen

“In the  storybooks she’d read in school, everyone got to wake up at the prince’s kiss.  But in Gemma’s version, the implication was that they all still slept under the wicked fairy’s sentence of death.  Death by sleep.”

Becca’s grandmother, Gemma, has been telling her the same version of Sleeping Beauty since she was a toddler.  In the nursing home, before her death, she claims “I was the princess”, struggling against the restraints that keep her from wandering and insisting that her old story was true.  “I am Briar Rose,” she repeats.  “”I was the princess in the castle in the sleeping woods.”  Becca’s siblings write it off as senility, the last tethers of her mind loosening with the combined stresses of age and loss.

Becca isn’t so sure, though. After Gemma dies, a mysterious box is unearthed, full of documents: newspaper clippings, birth certificates for her daughters, faded photographs, and a visa.  The visa is cryptic: the town of origin has been marked through, and other details have also been obscured.  It’s as if Gemma does not want to think about her life before immigrating to the United States.  But why?

Becca partners up with her coworker (and love interest),  Stan, to begin the investigation.  After narrowing down the Gemma’s city of origin to a couple of possibilities, Becca heads to Poland to learn more about Gemma’s story.  She carefully teases away layers of Gemma’s tale of the sleeping princess and the castle, and unearths the true story of the Nazi persecution of the Polish Jews, gays, and other marginalized groups during the Holocaust.  Gemma’s castle was actually Chelmno, a concentration camp that only a handful of people-three men and a woman-ever escaped from.  What ensues is a tale of hatred, hardship, and human resilience.  Really, I know.  The Holocaust was such  a shattering event that we have book upon book written over it, but this is a very unique take, and absolutely worth a look.

Not only do I adore Yolen’s integration of the Holocaust with the traditional tale of Sleeping Beauty, I also love the format of this book.  It is divided into two sections: Home and Castle.  Home is Becca’s life in the U.S., and Castle is when she is in Poland.  Furthermore,  every other chapter is Gemma’s fairy tale, told in her own words.  It’s italicized so you never have any question about who is talking.  The other chapters relate Becca’s current experiences.  It’s nontraditional, but well handled.  Combined with Yolen’s innovative handling of the horrors of the Holocaust and how she weaves it with Briar Rose.

This is another gem from Yolen, a recipient of the Mythopoeic Award, for a book that best exemplifies “the spirit of the Inklings”.  I love that it focuses on homosexuality during this time period.  Yolen handles it sensitively and beautifully.  If you’re like me, and obsessed with fairy tale retellings, this is certainly one of the best ones I’ve read.  Another bonus?  Yolen writes in a shout-out to my absolute favorite book, Robin McKinley’s Beauty. 

Happy Reading!

Author’s website: http://janeyolen.com/

Yolen, Jane. Briar Rose. New York: Tom Doherty Associates, 1992.  241 pp.

A note about the age: this book is recommended for readers 13 and up, but Becca (the protagonist) is actually a woman in her early twenties.  That may have been a plot device enabling Becca to go explore Poland on her own, but to a 13-year old, she may be a bit tricky to relate to.

Hard Love by Ellen Wittlinger

“Of course I knew.  It was the reason I was no longer comatose after an entire life of sleepwalking.  It seemed that, all of a sudden, Marisol was necessary to my existence, but of course, I didn’t mention that to her”

John’s parent’s divorced six years ago; his father left them for the high-flying bachelor life in the city.  John’s mother never touches him-not a hug, pat, or even accidentally, while passing the butter.  It has left John cold, sarcastic, and (even though he might not want to admit it) profoundly unhappy inside.

That is, until Marisol swoops into his life: a skinny, Puerto Rican lesbian, adopted by do-gooding WASPy parents.  They bond over their respective zines, which, for the uninitiated, are short, self-produced magazine publications.  They meet for coffee (which John learns to first tolerate, and then even like), and go to a concert.  The two talk for hours about feelings, parents, being different, and everything friends talk about.

However, things get complicated when John develops feelings for Marisol-those kind of feelings.  Even though Marisol is a lesbian, John falls for her, and can’t help but wishing there was more to their relationship.  The two have to navigate around their attachment, while at the same time, John is trying to renegotiate his relationship with his parents, and find who he really is.

This is a lovely, honest depiction of a growing friendship, especially when Wittlinger delves into John’s romantic attachment to Marisol.  It feels like this sort of situation happened to me at least five times when I was growing up, but it isn’t often that you see an author exploring those mixed-up love feelings.  These sections of the book really shine, and make it an award winner, I think.  She takes these miniatures of life, and examines them and works with them, and fills an entire book.  Fantastic, and not easy to do, I’d imagine.

Another great thing about the book is the references:  poetry, Ani DiFranco songs, inserts of various zines (art included), and the entire lyrics of the song that the book took its title from. It’s called Hard Love, by Bob Franke.  Here’s the Youtube link; I think you’ll like it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ejMPz5yOb0

All in all, this was a delightful book.  It reminisced on the awkwardness of the high school years, without dwelling on them.  And the relationships and characterization of John and Marisol are realistic and relatable.  I can see why it won some of the big awards: a YALSA Best Book, Lamda Literary Award, plus the prestigious Printz Honor nomination.  You don’t want to miss this one.  Even the dedication rocks:  “for everyone whose first love was a hard love.”  I can relate.

Happy Reading!

Author’s website: http://www.ellenwittlinger.com

Wittlinger, Ellen. Hard Love. Simon & Schuster: New York, 1999. 224 pp.  Grades 9-11.

I know I usually recommend other books, but right now, I am still formulating my choices for this one: John reminds me so much of another character I’ve read, I just need to search my brain archives so I can tell you!

Huntress by Malinda Lo

“The whole situation should be terrifying, but she felt a helpless surrender to it.  Here she was on this journey to a place that didn’t exist on their maps, and all around unseen things seemed to stare out at them day and night.  But there, not two feet away from her, was a girl who made her feel light-headed.”

Here’s the brand new Malinda Lo book, fresh off the press just this April!  I saw it at the library yesterday and spent all my spare seconds reading it.  Not that it was hard–I definitely didn’t want to put it down.  I feel like Malinda Lo really exceeded all of my expectations when it came to this book.  Even though it’s her second book, it’s set a few centuries before Ash, in the same land.

Here’s the story:  the Kingdom is in trouble.  The sun has faded to a nondescript gray, crops are failing, and people are starving.  Those worst off are beginning to revolt.  At the Academy, the leaders cast the stones of the Oracle.  Two seventeen-year-old girls, Kaede and Taisin, are chosen to undertake the perilous journey to the city of the Fairy Queen.  No one is sure what danger waits ahead, or even exactly where to go: some of the maps haven’t been updated in decades, back when the fairies and the humans had much more contact with each other.  So, with several escorts, the girls make their way over miles of terrain, facing cold, fear, wolves, a horrifying changeling baby, and worse.  As they travel together, the girls grow closer, and end up falling in love.

All right, I have to apologize.  My description of the plot is so, so lame compared to the actual story.  That’s why Malinda Lo is out there writing incredible adventure stories, and I’m just  here on this little blog, telling everyone how awesome she is.

Because, you know what?  She is awesome.  I want to live in her world, where there is no hate or homophobia and falling in love is just falling in love.  She makes a safe space for us, and I so appreciate it.  Many GLBT books deal with hatred, homophobia, social relationships, family tensions and bullying…which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  However, in Lo’s world, there has been a paradigm shift, far away from all of that.  It’s just normal.  Some people are gay and some people are straight, and there’s really no discussion about it.

Here’s what she has to say about the world she creates:

“The difference is: in the world of my novels, being gay doesn’t matter.

What that means is that the characters are able to fall in love without dealing with homophobia. They don’t have to come out, because sexual orientation is never assumed in their worlds, and falling in love with someone of the same sex is seen as perfectly natural.”

Beautiful.

Besides all of that lovely business, the adventure is tight: no wasted words, no irrelevant plot detours, just pure action and excitement.  Halfway through the book, I started panicking that it was going to end.  It’s not a tired account of the same old symbols, either: Lo mixes in the I Ching, fairy tale elements, and an ice fortress that reminded me of a fantastic Celtic folk tale I read one time.  I can’t wait for her to write something else!

Happy Reading!

Author’s website:  http://www.malindalo.com/

Lo, Malinda. Huntress. New York: Little, Brown & Co, 2011. 371 pp.  Ages16 and up.

If you liked this book (and you’ve already read The Hobbit, which it partly reminded me of), you should try her first book, Ash.  If you’ve already read them both, and are looking for more fantasy, I really like the author Robin McKinley.  However, if you’re searching for more GLBT fantasy, I am actually not sure what else is out there.  If anyone knows of something along those lines, please share!

Luna by Julie Anne Peters

    “My brother was a black hole in my universe.  He was sucking the life right out of me.  It seemed as if I was being pulled into this crater by a force I couldn’t fight.  Liam was already down there.  We were together at the bottom.”

I don’t often interrupt my reviews with personal stories, but this book made me need to say something to my sister: thank you.  You are, and were, a gift to me.  I couldn’t have done it without you.

This is a story about sisters.  Well, about a younger sister, Regan, and her older sister, Luna.  Only, Luna doesn’t start off being physically a sister.  She says it’s a “birth anomaly”, and that she just got stuck with a boy’s body, instead of a girl’s.  Luna was born Liam: he’s transgender, and the only person who knows is Regen.  Ever since Liam was very young, he felt something was wrong: his outside didn’t match what he felt inside.  So, for all these years, he has been hiding his true self, Luna, smothering her with boy’s clothes and trying to be “normal”.  But it’s destroying him inside.

Regen and Luna’s father is strict and traditional, and their mother is so wrapped up in her wedding planning business that she doesn’t notice what is going on around her.  The only time that Luna feels comfortable being herself is in the middle of the night, when she wakes up Regen, tries on her makeup, and experiments with clothes.  However, during the course of the book, she decides to transition.  Luna starts trying to wear her girl clothes to the mall, or on short outings.  She makes plans for the future, when she can afford hormones and surgery.

It’s not always easy.  There are heartbreaking moments: when Regen feels embarrassed that she can’t just have a normal brother, or when cruel comments crush Luna’s confidence.  That’s what is so great about this book; it’s a realistic whirl of emotions, fears, and hope.   Above all, it is honest.  The raw emotions aren’t concealed, and each character develops in a realistic way.   I read it right after Jumpstart the World, and I have to say that I greatly preferred this one, because it was more in touch with the feelings of transpeople and their family members.  It was very well-received, and the long list of awards includes a Stonewall Honor Book nomination, as well as a Lamda Literary Award finalist designation.  I think you’re going to love it!

Happy Reading!

Author’s website (she designed it herself!) http://www.julieannepeters.com

Peters, Julie Anne. Luna.  New York: Little, Brown & Co, 2004. 248 pp.  Grades 9-12.

If you liked this book, Julie Anne Peters has written several more, including the lesbian classic Keeping You a Secret.  She’s definitely a writer you should get to know! If you are interested in reading more about transgender teens, try Parrotfish byEllen Wittlinger.

Jumpstart the World by Catherine Ryan Hyde

“‘I’m trying to jumpstart the world.’

‘What does that mean?’

‘I’m trying to remind the world to be what it knows it should be.'”

Elle’s beautiful, aloof mother dumps her in a New York apartment alone, just shy of her 16th birthday.  The reasoning:  her mother has a new boyfriend, and he’s just not interested in having a teenager hanging around.  So Elle gets her own apartment, conveniently out of the way.  After she moves in, she meets Frank, her next-door neighbor.  Right away, she notices something different about him.  She finds herself drawn to him.  He’s a great listener, and Elle really hasn’t had anyone to really listen to her in her life before.

When her new group of friends point out that they think Frank is transgender, Elle becomes very upset.  During her sheltered life, she has never been exposed to any of the GLBT crowd before.  She’s not sure what to do, and for a while she avoids Frank and her friends at school.   She has a lot to think about.

That’s the point of this book: what Elle is thinking about.  It’s not a plot-driven story; it’s more about how Elle’s thoughts develop and change.  I like that, actually.  It gives the story a quiet, introspective feel.  The language is simple, almost sparse, and feels thoughtful in the sense that these are Elle’s thoughts, her first-person narrative.  She honestly discusses her preconceptions, hurts and fears throughout the book.

I am always grateful to see books about transpeople.  One of the most powerful motivators of hatred is fear and ignorance, and it’s a step in the right direction to be exposed to many different types of people in this nonjudgmental way.  That said, I would really like to see more of these books about GLBT characters to be written by GLBT authors.  I’m not saying that this would have been a better book had the author been transgender herself, but I would like to see more of our voices out there.

All in all, a quiet, pleasant read.  Happy reading!

Author’s website: http://www.catherineryanhyde.com/

Hyde, Catherine Ryan. Jumpstart the World.New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2010.  208 pp.  Grades 8-10.

Skim by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki

All the spells for bringing someone back to you need hair from the person who has left.  How are you supposed to get hair if the person won’t talk to you is gone?  Witchcraft=total crap.

You are never really alone in the city at night.  There are always

taxi drivers

coffee shop people

the 7-Eleven guy

people in their homes

watching talk shows.

It just feels lonely.

It is my pleasure to introduce you to Skim.  Her full name is Kimberly Keiko Cameron, and she goes to a private girl’s school.  In this pensive gem of a graphic novel, Skim describes, diary-style, what happens in her school when the ex-boyfriend of her classmate commits suicide.  Grief counselors visit the school, the popular girls form the Girls Celebrate Life club and Skim observes it all.

You know, that’s the plot, but I feel like just describing it doesn’t do this book justice.  Honestly, the suicide actually is more of the backdrop: the real focus is Skim’s personal musings.  She reads her tarot cards, tries to cast Wiccan spells, negotiates relationships, and struggles with falling in love with an older woman.

All of this understated teenage angst is exquisitely complemented by Jillian Tamaki’s incredibly graceful black and white drawings.  The language is simple, almost verging on sparse, but in combination with the graphics, this is a phenomenal work.  It is perfectly evocative of the quiet trials of being a teenager, the feeling Skim describes as feeling “like I have wings but my bones are bricks”.

Please, please read this book.  When you’re done, pass it on to someone else.  I’m putting it on my Best Ever list right away.

Happy Reading!

Author’s website: www.marikotamaki.com

Illustrator’s website: www.jilliantamaki.com

Tamaki, Mariko and Jillian. Skim. Toronto: Groundwood Books, 2008. 142 pp.  Ages 14 and up.

If you like this book, try Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel, or Indoor Voice, by Jillian Tamaki.

Ok, I can’t resist: one more picture!