Thursday, August 6, 2015


This is one of the pile of books I picked up from the library to take on vacation with me a few weeks ago. I have a little backlog of books that I've finished that I need to get my thoughts down about, before they fade away. I've had Skim on my list for a while. I originally wrote it down after hearing about it somewhere and thinking my daughter may enjoy it. She had already read it, and did enjoy it, so I left it on my list.

Skim is a graphic novel. The cover says "Words by Mariko Tamaki, Drawings by Jillian Tamaki." I understand that these two are cousins, and that this is their first venture. Nice work.

It had been so long, I had forgotten what I had heard about this book, and when I saw the cover art, I was reminded of old Japanese paintings of samurai and thought that maybe it was a historic novel. No. Its a story of a confused teen, dealing with the day-to-day life of being on the outside looking in. Skim--a not-so-nice nickname for the main character, Kim--follows her through the effort she has to constantly put forth just to deal with the crap that being outside of the cool group at school puts on a middle school girl. Skim is just slightly outside the norms: shes a little Asian, a little overweight, a little romantically experimental, a little quiet, and a little lonely.

Its not the first time these tropes have been examined, but Skim does it with a thoughtfulness and respect for Skim's right to think and feel as an individual. Skim takes us into how Skim feels, what she dreams of, with glimpses at her diary entries, and follows her closely so that we can feel her disappointments, anguish, and frustrations as the things that seem to happen so effortlessly for others, continually pass her by.


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