It is a quick read, as I am discovering that graphic novels usually are. But for the hour or so I was reading, I was transported right back to high school, and all of the confusion and insecurity associated with that time. I could relate to Skim (officially Kimberly Keiko Cameron) and her experience of feeling isolated and not quite understanding what was going on. The issues that I remember from high school are not the same as what Skim is facing - I don't remember any suicides at my school, and I didn't have a lesbian crush on one of my teachers - but the issues that I do remember (depression, bullying, teen pregnancy...) resonated the same. I still remember the feeling of wanting to fit in, and yet seeing fitting in as being hypocritical. As an interesting side note, the book takes place in the fall of 1993 when Skim is 16 - I was also 16 in the fall of 1993.
I loved Skim's observations of the crazy world around her. "Truthfully I am always a little depressed but that is just because I am sixteen and everyone is stupid (ha-ha-ha). I doubt it has anything to do with being a goth." "Halloween is when a lot of non-witches dress up like witches. So it's hard to see people as they really are. Unless they are dressed up like Barbie or Nixon or Freddy, in which case you know they are lame-o freaks." "My school = goldfish tank of stupid." "P.S. Mom is NOT a light sleeper. Good thing I'm not a drug addict or anything or I could easily rob her blind."
So who should read this book? Anyone who remembers the real angst of being a misfit in high school. Or anyone who is currently experiencing the angst of being a misfit in high school. (Interestingly, this book is put out by a children's publisher.) Maybe not the "popular girls" from high school - though I'm not saying that they didn't have their problems, they just appeared as though they didn't.
And as an extra bonus, the day after I ordered this book, John over at The Book Mine Set announced a mini-challenge - if 10 Canadian books with a Japanese connection are reviewed in the month of April, he will donate $200 to the Red Cross. As Mariko and Jillian Tamaki are cousins of Japanese origin, this book definitely counts!