Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5
Format: Hardcover Graphic novel (?); it’s designed to look like a Moleskine journal, complete with elastic cords, a ribbon and graph paper pages.
What did you like about the book? This is an autobiographical graphic novel by the well-known and very anxious Adrian Tomine. A perpetual outsider, the book opens in his 1982 elementary classroom when, as the new kid, he bores classmates with his comics’ obsession. His teacher sends someone over to be his friend, a pattern he probably wishes he could employ as an adult. Year after year, he nervously treks to Comic Con and obsesses over meeting other illustrators, potential romantic partners and fans. It’s almost painful to read, but also enormously brave and heartening. Even if we can’t identify with all Adrian’s experiences (how many of us will be interviewed by Terry Gross?), others will hit home, such as a potential date short-circuited by embarrassing bodily functions or a child’s temper tantrum that elicits unhelpful advice from a senior citizen.
If you’re familiar with Tomine’s work, this black-and-white sketchbook will be familiar. Organized chronologically, each page is very neatly laid out with six panels. There’s almost no change in visual perspective; every view is from about 6-8 feet away. The figures are slightly thick and stout, but otherwise realistic, done with very fine pen strokes and some cross-hatching.
Anything you didn’t like about it? It’s probably most suited to fans of his work or those interested in the world of graphic novel publishing. Tomine does spill on colleagues, but scribbles out their names so we can only infer who he’s casting shade on.
To whom would you recommend this book? Best suited to an adult audience. It’s not that it’s inappropriate, but I feel like the subject matter would be of limited interest to teens.
Who should buy this book? Public libraries
Where would you shelve it? Graphic novels
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? If you’re already a fan.
Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA
Date of review: August 4, 2020