Wednesday 24 July 2013

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Review: Skim by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki

Skim by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko TamakiSkim by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki - After a boy at school takes his own life, teen-witch Skim's fragile world seems to topple and turn upside down too. In witty, moving and painfully honest diary entries Skim confides the frenzy of grief that surrounds her, while deep down she struggles with her own loneliness and the secret inner stirrings she feels when falling in love for the first time. From Amazon UK

Trigger Warning: This book features suicide.

After the recommendation from Ilikey Merey, and a conversation with a work colleague about it, Skim found its way into my hands thanks to aforementioned work colleague specifically for LGBTQ YA Month (thanks, Lily!). Again, not generally being a fan of graphic novels, I was a little wary, but found I really enjoyed it.

A boy from Skim's school, John dies by suicide, and the school suddenly becomes obsessed with grief. Skim is witness to the "coolness" that comes with dragging out John's death - memorials, the "Girls Celebrate Life" group that's set up, the constant smothering of the one person who is actually grieving, John's ex-girlfriend Katie. Skim sees it all, but doesn't join in. She has enough going on in her own life - like falling in love with Ms. Archer, her English and Art teacher, and the recent awkwardness between her and her best friend Lisa.

This isn't a book about suicide, being a teen witch, discovering your sexuality, or friend problems. It's about life, the life of Skim, and these happen to be the things that are going on in her life at the moment. There isn't really a main focus for the story, but Skim's growing attraction to her teacher is the focus for her. Ms. Archer is cool; she listens to her, and they end up having conversations outside of class, smoking together, discussing the books being studied. Ms. Archer doesn't treat her like a child or a student, but a person who's opinions are valid. Skim is flattered by the attention, and she finds herself falling in love with her teacher. It's never discussed though; she doesn't tell Lisa, she doesn't tell anyone. Skim deals with it all on her own. It felt to me much less about Ms. Archer, and more about Skim's self-discovery and falling in love for the first time. It was sweet in the only way confusion about love can be.

The story as a whole is great. I can't really talk that much more about it without spoiling it, but I can say that it's a story I would have automatically picked up to read without hesitation if it was a YA novel rather than a graphic novel. If I had to criticise, I'd say that I'd have preferred there be more description when it came to feelings, and I'd like to know more about what happened at certain times; what led up to it, the aftermath, rather than just an image. I know a picture can say a thousand words, but perhaps a thousand isn't enough for me sometimes. An awesome graphic novel, and a great story!

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Published: 4th May 2009
Publisher: Walker
Mariko Tamaki's Website
Jillian Tamaki's Website


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