My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Raincoast Books
Published: August 2019
Publisher: First Second
Recommended Age: 8+
Genres & Themes: Graphic Memoir, Middle Grade, Friendship, Boys, Anxiety
It was lovely to keep reading about Shannon Hale’s childhood, even if she didn’t always have a good time being surrounded by people she thought were her real friends. I liked her honesty—how she honestly admitted she wanted to be popular and fit in and lied about things to please others.
To be honest, I didn’t connect quite as much as I think other people could because I’ve never cared about being popular in real life. Like Shannon, I was able to spot the popular girls or cliques, and even joined a few, but for me if I don’t connect with you naturally—if I have to change things about myself for our relationship to go somewhere—then I’m going to look elsewhere.
And like Shannon is showing us here, popularity isn’t everything. It makes you feel special in the beginning, but one thing I think she noticed even though it’s not discussed explicitly in the graphic novel, it’s that popular people are normal people, too. They’re just, usually, more attractive because they care about society’s standards. Like Shannon’s friends calling boys up to rate them. God, that made me feel so bad. These girls were being taught that girls must please boys and a beautiful girl is a happy girl. Sweet Jesus.
It was interesting, though, and realistic and heartfelt. Even if the popularity aspect became redundant and I wished Shannon would be courageous enough to tell her truth and defend her own opinions early on, I think she learned a lot and other kids reading this graphic memoir can learn from it as well. I absolutely adored the magnificent illustrations and Shannon’s creative mind. I’m pretty excited about the next graphic memoir in this series… Hope there is more. I want to know more about Shannon Hale’s childhood and her teenage years.
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