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Review of Tomboy: A Graphic Memoir

Prince_TomboyTomboy: A Graphic Memoir
by Liz Prince; illus. by the author
Middle School, High School   Zest Books   256 pp.
9/14   Paper ed. 978-1-936976-55-3   $15.99
e-book ed. 978-1-936976-56-0   $15.99

“When you don’t look or act like what everyone has been told is the norm, you get proverbially barfed on a lot.” In an often funny, sometimes painful, and sharply observed graphic memoir, comics artist and self-described tomboy Prince views her formative years through the lens of gender — or rather, society’s rigid rules for gender conformity. Chronicling the evolution of her thoughts about her own identity — “Maybe I am a boy…” — Prince examines deeply ingrained cultural assumptions about the sexes. The narrative takes a satisfying shape, and Prince’s honest voice and self-deprecating humor help make young Liz a sympathetic and relatable character. The simply rendered black-and-white panel drawings have an unpretentious quality, in keeping with the narrative tone. Prince’s childhood and adolescent trials and tribulations will resonate with readers in general, but it’s all compounded by her unwavering gender nonconformity. She’s frequently humiliated and even bullied in elementary and middle school, but she comes through the tumult of puberty to find a community of like- and open-minded “misfits” and “dweebs” in high school (including a boyfriend) who share her interests in comics, punk music, and zines. More importantly, she discovers that tomboy and girl don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

From the January/February 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

About Kitty Flynn

Kitty Flynn is consulting editor for The Horn Book, Inc.

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