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Review: "Tomboy - A Graphic Memoir," by Liz Prince and "This One Summer," by Jil

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These two graphic novels I picked up in the OHS library. I love graphic novels in general for their immediacy and interpretation of story. Those of these were intriguing and interesting that they were in a high school library. I hope students pick them up and give them a look. "Tomboy" I enjoyed just a touch more, but I can easily see why 'someone might prefer "Summer". The drawings in Tomboy were pretty basic, almost Sunday cartoonish with simple lines and little elaboration. The story surrounding a girl who always felt more like a boy plays out over her early life up and through high school with a quick jump to adulthood (age 32). There's an ambiguity to the story that leaves the reader open to the actual sexual orientation of the author. Is she simply a tomboy, or is she gay, or even a transgender individual? The school librarian said, "Oh,that's the story about the transgender girl," but I didn't see it that simply. Of course, I could look up the author online and perhaps get more details, but the story stands alone. The growing pains, bullying and difficulty of finding both friends and crushes are played out quite well, without the intimacy that might come with a book or novel. I enjoyed it and found it engrossing.

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"This One Summer" has a bit of a different play with less than a moving story but a much more sense of time and place and emotion than the first read above. A girl(actually two) and their summer of awakening to horror movies, older teens, their developing bodies and involvement in their inner lives was moody, atmospheric, well drawn in parts and a true growing up feel. The parallel story of the main character's mother and her depression for a very obvious reason (held from the reader until the end) brought the story into sharp focus. Childhood summer, perhaps for us all, is a time of discovery and exploration, both of the inner world and the outer. "This One Summer" speaks to that clearly, without embellishment.