This was a superb graphic novel. Having won the Best Illustrated Children's Book Award by the New York Times, its already proven its caliber. The artwork is so filled with fluid and delicate dark lines that it reminds me of calligraphy. The backgrounds are extremely detailed and the way panels will be placed above them in a smaller space makes it feel like poetry in images. There are a lot of close-ups and variety of angles used by the illustrator. These aspect to aspect and moment to moment shots slow the action down and let us feel what the characters are feeling.
The story is about a girl, Kim, known by Skim to the girls at her school, and her friendships and budding love affair. Like all good teen stories, it is a novel about identity and finding our true selves and our true friendships as well as what love means and how it can so easily tear our heart apart.
While the below image might ruin part of the story, I just have to share it because I think it is so beautiful. It reminds me of two flowers blooming inside a patch of thorns, a briar rose, if you will:
Interest level: YA - because of smoking, drinking and adult concepts I would say Grades 8-12
Questions to Readers:
What choices did Ms. Archer make, bad or good? Would you have done anything differently? What changed between Lisa and Kim? Why do you think Lisa was so angry all the time? What different things do you think Katie was feeling over the course of the novel? Why was Kim able to sympathize?
Read-alikes: Page by Paige, Friends with Boys