LITTLE FISH by Ramsey Beyer
Ramsey knows that she wants to go to art school and that she does not want to stay in the Midwest. She loves her small town, her family, and her friends, but something is calling her to Baltimore–and not just the punk scene. As she begins her college education in an unfamiliar environment, Ramsey navigates the challenges most college freshmen experience such as homesickness, adjusting to new freedoms, more difficult coursework, and new relationships. This graphic memoir will appeal to high school realistic fiction and memoir fans, especially seniors about to experience their own freshman year.
TOMBOY by Liz Prince
Liz is a tomboy. Not the kind of tomboy that you see on TV with braided pigtails and overalls, but the kind of girl who gets mistaken for a boy due to the way she dresses and acts and the activities that she enjoys. In fact, Liz wishes she were a boy because then she wouldn’t have to deal with all of the double standards applied to her because she is a girl. She is secretly pleased when people mistake her for a boy. Unfortunately, being a tomboy seems to have doomed her romantic life. By recounting the story of her childhood, Liz Prince explorers the idea of what it means to be a girl in a world of conflicting gender expectations.
Although brief sections of this graphic memoir read a little bit like a sociology text, the sense of humor of the author and her relatable story about growing up, trying to fit in, facing bullying, and discovering her identity is an engaging read. I recommend it to teens who enjoy graphic novels, memoirs, or realistic fiction.
BROWN GIRL DREAMING by Jacqueline Woodson
Jacqueline’s childhood was shaped by the Civil Rights movement, her grandfather’s garden, the kids playing in the streets in Bushwick, and so many other things. She gathers her memories and turns them into poetry in this National Book Award winning memoir. Her story is accessible and beautifully told with vivid imagery and a depth of reflection that inspires similar personal reflection from readers of all ages. A beautiful book. I highly recommend it!
TAKING FLIGHT: FROM WAR ORPHAN TO STAR BALLERINA by Michaela DePrince with Elaine DePrince
As a child, Michaela DePrince witnessed terrible violence in war-torn Sierra Leone. She survived the death of both of her parents, and escaped as a refugee to Ghana, where she was adopted by an American family. What kept Michaela’s hope alive through her years in Sierra Leone was a torn magazine cover with a photograph of a ballerina on it. It was the most incredible thing she had ever seen, and she hoped that one day she could become a ballerina too. Her adoptive parents supported her dreams, and Michaela overcame racial discrimination to become one of the world’s few black classical ballerinas.
Young as she is, Michaela’s memoir only covers her first 17 years of life. But her story is inspiring and very well-written. I read it in one sitting. Although marketed as a young adult book, her story will be of interest to teens and adults. I highly recommend it!