Calling Dr. Laura: a Graphic Memoir by Nicole Georges

lauraThis book had been on my radar for so long that it was rather built up in my head. For the longest time I wasn’t able to get it and finally my library had it and I was so excited to receive it. Not surprisingly, it couldn’t quite live up to what I had it built up to be. That said, this was a fine graphic memoir and I did enjoy it.  I liked the illustration style. The story itself is a memoir, all about Nicole’s family secrets (her family told her her father was dead-he wasn’t) and coming out to her family. The Dr. Laura part was smaller than I thought it would be (again, built up in my head.) Overall, this was good but not the best I’d ever read.

The Marvels by Brian Selznick

marvelsI really liked Wonderstruck and the Invention of Hugo Cabret, so was pretty excited to read Selznick’s latest. A beautiful deep blue cover with golden illustration and gleaming gold edged pages, this book looks enchanting and special from the get go. It is the same tremendous size and heft as Hugo Cabret and Wonderstruck, and the same storytelling method-large illustrated pages (wordless) and then text. I especially liked the non-text sections of the story. And as for the story? It goes in such an unexpected and strange (but charming) direction. Selznick is an impressive researcher and the afterward is a must-read. Without giving anything away, but so that I remember for myself-it focuses on generations of a family of actors and a present day child trying to unravel the mystery of them and how his reclusive uncle fits in with it all.

I am Princess X by Cherie Priest

Remember how on my birthday I responded to every Facebook birthday wish with a book recommendation? I was so tickled this summer when one of my librarian friends said she liked the idea so much that she did the same thing on her birthday! And this is the book she recommended to me.

princessxI LOVED this. Some graphic novel pages thrown in, a mystery [two girls create Princess X in story and pictures, one girl dies, the other one doesn’t believe it, and a few years later she sees Princess X pasted up all over the city), and a wild story. I loved how it came together and the girls’ friendship. Isn’t it convenient, though, how often in fiction (books or tv or movies) some teenager is always an amazing hacker? Have you ever known one in real life? I haven’t, but the world of fiction is lousy with these geniuses. I couldn’t wait to find out what happened and was super caught up in it. Terrific story.

This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki

summerThis book got a ton of buzz because it received a Printz honor and a Caldecott honor. Say what? a young adult award and a picture book award? Yes. And yeah, the Caldecott guidelines are for illustration, not technically a picture book, which is why they are giving it to this book, but I say rewrite those guidelines and stop giving what I believe is meant to be a picture book award to a young adult coming of age graphic novel that is quite mature. But, I think this is a good book and am delighted for the author, illustrator, and publisher (First Second, of course!).
Anyway, the book itself. It is indeed about one summer and two friends, one of whom, Windy, is a bit younger. This summer feels different for Rose for a lot of reasons. Her parents seem to be struggling over possibly grief and/or disagreement, Windy’s immaturity and free-spirit are occasionally unwelcome, and she is somewhat attracted to somewhat unsavory older teens.
I loved the illustration style and the blue palette. I especially enjoyed the character of Windy and the contrast between her and Rose. Windy is still on the side of childhood, filled with exuberance, self-confidence, and fun. Poor Rose has crossed the line into adolescence and all the burden of angst that comes with that.

Tomboy: A Graphic Memoir by Liz Prince

tomboyA graphic novel memoir all about a girl’s childhood to young womanhood, focusing on the fact that she is a tomboy. As a memoir I found it very enjoyable-not super gripping, but pleasant.  I think that girls who feel a connection to Liz would find this book extremely comforting. There are definitely moments of sadness talking about how unkind people could be to her and the isolation she felt.

Smile by Raina Telgemeier

(After writing up the review for Sisters, I see that I never did a post for Smile! So here’s what I said on Goodreads.)
smileThis book was huge the year it came out and somehow I never read it even though every single YA person I know loved it. And with good reason! I loved this. Strangely, I felt like I could relate both to the awkward middle school protagonist AND her mother (I guess I’ve reached a certain age?) This was touching, moving, and completely realistic (as it should be given that it’s a memoir.) That delicate border of 12 going into 13 was heartbreakingly relatable

Sisters by Raina Telgemeier

sistersThis is the sequel to Smile, and just as heartfelt. This time the focus is on Raina’s relationship with her sister Amara, specifically during a long family road trip to Colorado.  Although it covers some sensitive stuff, like the family’s growing pains in a small apartment, sibling rivalry, and parental woes, it actually didn’t feel as heavy as Smile.  I couldn’t quite place where this fit in chronologically with Smile, but Raina had braces in it so it is in that timeline.
I loved the road trip details, but for me the big standout is the snake story. Given that I am terrified of snakes and the drawings of Raina with giant terrified eyes is pretty much me.

Another winning book by Telgemeier. I’d read anything she writes & draws-she perfectly captures the sweet and sour feelings of adolescence.