Book Review: Skim by Mariko Tamaki

I’ve actually already read Skim by Mariko Tamaki once before. I had to read it for a women studies course I took a few years, and I was blown away. So when I knew I had to read a graphic novel for POPSUGAR’s 2015 Reading Challenge, I immediately thought of this novel. It has been awhile since I first read it, and my memory is terrible, so there were still many surprises.

Title: Skim

Author: Mariko Tamaki (Drawings by Jillian Tamaki)

Genre: Graphic Novel, Teen Fiction

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 142 pages

Publisher: House of Anansi Press

Publishing Year: 2008

2015 Reading Challenge: A graphic novel

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Skim is set in an all-girls Catholic high school in Toronto in 1993, and follows a sixteen-year-old Japanese-Canadian student named Kimberly Keiko Cameron aka Skim. Although she is called Skim, she is a “not slim,” known as a goth, who practices Wicca with her best friend Lisa Soor. When the popular girl in school Katie Matthews is dumped by her boyfriend John Reddear, who later commits suicide, the entire school goes into mourning. Immediately the school counselors are looking at Skim, thinking that she will follow John Reddear’s actions.

“Mrs. Hornet said she’s particularly concerned about people like me, because people like me are prone to depression and depressing stimuli. Mrs. Hornet says students who are members of the “gothic” culture (i.e. ME) are very fragile.” – Skim by Mariko Tamaki

And the popular clique, led by Julie Peters, forms a new club (Girls Celebrate Life! or GCL) to bolster school spirit, while Skim sinks into a deepening depression.

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And when Skim falls in love, it only makes things worse.

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This novel explores suicide, depression, love, friendship, LGBTQ, popularity, crushes, cliques, stigmas, stereotypes, trying to fit in and how to be yourself.

“I just think it’s stupid. I mean, you know, that we’re studying all these books…plays…whatever…that everyone studies every year. I mean, they’re not even all that interesting, or like, unique. I mean A LOVE story. No offence. But it’s like why is it so important that a boy falls in love with a girl? You know, I understand that it’s a masterpiece and everything, but there’s a part of me that’s all like, so what?” – Skim by Mariko Tamaki

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“Scott Bouffant marked me in grade nine with a disgusting hickey that didn’t go away for a week. Me = slut for a whole week.” – Skim by Mariko Tamaki

I give this novel a 5 out of 5. Absolutely beautiful read. This book will make you laugh, cry, contemplate, discover, and question. It is a genius exploration into high school and teenage life that is by and about young women. The storyline seems very simplistic, but the characters have such resonance today even though the story is set in 1993. You can probably identify with one character or know of someone who reminds you of a character.

This novel will grab you from the first moment and suck you in, you will not be able to put it down. I picked it up from the library, brought it home, thought I was only going to read a few pages and then I ended up finishing the book in one sitting. Also if you’ve never read a graphic novel, you will fall in love with them after reading this book. Visually stunning, each picture grabs your attention to the very end.

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