Tuesday, August 23, 2011

How I Made It to Eighteen

Now that I have access to some great libraries, a new goal of mine is to always have a graphic novel going. They tell narratives differently, students love them, and they are usually pretty quick reads. Tracey White's How I Made It to Eighteen fits easily into all of these categories.

This story tells how the author's alter ego Stacey Black's self-destructive tendencies led to committing herself to a mental institution. Stacey has a variety of issues to contend with: bulimia, drug and alcohol use, a distant mother and deceased father, past sexual abuse, and an unhealthy relationship with her boyfriend. The author doesn't sugarcoat her past, nor does she finish the year with a happy ending. Still, I really wanted Stacey to have a chance to start over. Throughout the book there is a question put forth to Stacey's four closest friends; their answers show us the influences in her life. I hope that once she left the institution, she never spoke to any of them because they were so self-involved and negative. It was really clever of White to give us these glimpses of Stacey's previous life.

While they cover wildly different topics, How I Made It to Eighteen reminded me of Raina Telgemeier's Smile because they are graphic novels about girls coming of age. I like that these books are accessible to all students and present the girls in my classes with a different way to tell their stories. Still, I would probably recommend borrowing it from the local library rather than spending $16.99 on a book that will be breezed through so quickly.

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