Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Tina's Mouth by Keshni Kashyap, illustrated by Mari Araki

Tina has recently been dumped by her best friend Alex which means she has a lot of time to sit and think.  And a lot of time to work on her semester long sophomore English Honors elective in existential philosophy assignment: who are you?  Tina writes to dead French existential philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre as she tries to figure out who she is, why Alex doesn't want to be friends with her anymore, how to get Neil Strumminger to kiss her and lots more.

This was an interesting read, because it went back and forth between being an illustrated novel and being a graphic novel.  At points it's really text heavy with only a few accompanying illustrations.  Most of the time it's a traditional comics panel set-up, but sometimes it breaks out of that.  I've decided to classify it as a graphic novel because that's what it is most of the time.

I enjoyed this very much.  Tina has so many thoughts in her head and no one to share them with.  Her best friend Alex has suddenly become too mature for her and wants to spend her time buying clothes and putting on makeup and hanging out with people that a week ago both Tina and Alex thought were mean and shallow.  Tina is Indian-American, and she's tired of constantly having people at her predominately white school ask her stupid questions.  Her older brother recently broke off his engagement and Tina thinks he might be gay, and her older sister is dating a younger guy which freaks out her parents.  She's also in love with Neil, who sometimes talks to her and sometimes wants to hang out and even kissed her once but she doesn't know what his deal is.

I loved seeing Tina figure things out.  While it was sad that Alex dumped her, it gave Tina a chance (and also forced her) to talk to other people and branch out.  She joins the drama club and realizes she really likes it and is good at it.  She takes more chances, and even though her romance doesn't have a happy ending she gets a lot out of the experience.  Even at the end, when it seems that Tina and Alex will probably reconcile, we're left knowing that things aren't going to go back to the way they were before.  Tina is now much more secure and confident and has more of an understanding of who she is.

All the illustrations are done in black and white and look like pencil drawings, which was appropriate since it was suppose to be Tina drawing in her diary.  It reminded me a lot of Amelia's Notebook.  Did anyone else read that when they were younger?

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