Friday, April 26, 2013
Zest Books, 2013
Genre: Memoir, Realistic, School Story, Graphic Novel
Description: Ramsey Beyer is a comic book artist who, in Little Fish, tells the memoir of her first year in college. Ramsey begins the story as an 18-year-old girl ready to go to college. She lives in a small town and is ready to make the transition to a independent girl living in a big city attending college. Throughout the story we learn about Ramsey (her artistic endeavors, her obsession with making lists, the fact that she has never had a boyfriend) and we see her grow during her first year in college. We see her struggle with classes where her art is no longer seen as outstanding but average. We see her struggle with (non-traditional) six- to ten-hour classes. We experience finals week and the stress of moving in with people you don’t know and making friends with people you don’t know. But there are good things too—making new friends who maybe get you more so than your high school friends ever did and the difficulties of going back home and realizing your old friends are now strangers.
Opinion: Beyer’s art style is cute and will attract readers of graphic novels and manga. It will especially appeal to girls who like to read graphic novels (or maybe girls who don’t like graphic novels because they think they are all for boys and have no good stories to tell for girls). I was happy to see a graphic novel (and a realistic one too) as an option for the YALSA YA Galley group. It was an enjoyable story. My favorite parts were how Ramsey really got the happy and sad parts about a student’s first year in college. A lot of teens who are apprehensive to start college might find some advice in the pages of this memoir. She tells it like it is—how college is tougher for many students, how it is hard to find and make new friends, how being away from your old friends might put a strain on your relationships as you grow and move apart. My biggest disappointment with the story was that a lot of information was constantly repeated again and again and it could have used some better editing in that regard. For instance, this shows up the most in her lists. Numerous times we learn about her old friends and her new friends in almost the same wording. This occurs for a number of things that appear narrated in list forms. However, I think it is really cool that she was able to actually utilize her old journals, drawings, and collages from when she was 18 (she’s now nearly 30) as the background material for her memoir. Instead of trying to write about the experience from the point-of-view of a 30-year-old she was able to actually incorporate what she thought, felt, and said as her 18-year-old self into the story because she kept such detailed journals of her time. This gives an air of authenticity to her feelings. I’d definitely give this story to anyone who loves graphic novels, real life stories, or is apprehensive about moving away for college and being on their own for the first time in their lives.
Thanks to Jo Beaton at Zest Books for the ARC for the YA Galley Group!