Skim by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki

August 7, 2009

Skim
Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki, illus.
ISBN 978-0-88899-753-1
Groundwood Books, 2008
Grade 9 and up
Graphic Novel

When one student commits suicide, everyone is obsessed, and Skim just finds herself getting more and more depressed.

Summary:

Skim is goth and Wicca (kinda). She sticks out, Asian and chubby, in a sea of slim white faces. That’s why they call her ‘Skim’ — because she isn’t. Popular Katie’s popular boyfriend kills himself and the teachers and students become obsessed. Everyone is watching her, they think she might be next. When Katie falls off a roof, her friends rally around her; Skim finds herself growing farther apart from her own best friend. Skim falls in love with her teacher, Ms. Archer, goes to a Wicca/A.A. group, chain smokes, and mopes. Social groups are shifting around her, and finally she finds herself shifting along with it, finding a new friend and possible girlfriend in Katie.

Critique:

This subtle exploration delves into sexuality, depression, and relationships. The illustrations are full of mood and emotion. Skim, her teachers, and classmates are alternately serious and funny.

Curriculum Ties:

Introduce Skim when exploring alternative forms of narrative.

Controversy:

Sexuality, suicide, romantic relationships with teachers.

Ask challengers to read the entire book and refer them to the positive reviews received by Skim.

Selection Rationale:

This is a different story and it clearly illustrates the way that social groups change during turbulent adolescent times. Many girls will find themselves able to identify with the characters in Skim. The book also shows that people are not always what you perceive them to be.

“With honesty and compassion, this innovative narrative communicates a life just beginning, open and full of possibility.” – School Library Journal

ALA Top Ten Graphic Novels for Teens, 2009

ALA Best Books for Young Adults, 2009

About the Author:

Mariko and Jillian Tamaki are cousins, this is their first project together. Independently, Mariko is an author (non-fiction, plays, etc.), queer activist and performance artist, and graduate student; Jillian went to school for graphic design, she works primarily as an editorial illustrator.

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