Tomboy: A Graphic Memoir
Growing up, Liz Prince wasn’t a girly girl, dressing in pink tutus or playing pretty princess like the other girls in her neighborhood. But she wasn’t exactly one of the guys either (as she learned when her little league baseball coach exiled her to the distant outfield). She was somewhere in between. But with the forces of middle school, high school, parents, friendship, and romance pulling her this way and that, the middle wasn’t exactly an easy place to be. Tomboy follows Ignatz Award-winning author and artist Liz Prince through her early years and explores—with humor, honesty, and poignancy—what it means to “be a girl.” From staunchly refuting ”girliness” and finding the perfect outfit, to discovering through the punk community that your identity is whatever you make of it, Tomboy offers a sometimes hilarious, sometimes heartbreaking account of self-discovery in modern America.
ADVANCE CRITICAL PRAISE FOR TOMBOY
"Prince explores what it means to be a tomboy in a magnificently evocative graphic memoir…. Simple, line-based art provides a perfect complement to her keen narration, giving this an indie, intimate feel and leaving readers feeling like they really know her. Liz's story, captured with wry humor and a deft, visceral eye, is a must-read for fans who fell for Raina Telgemeier's work in middle school. Spectacular; a book to make anyone think seriously about society's preordained gender roles." – ★ Kirkus Reviews [Starred Review]
"The heroine of this charming, gently subversive graphic memoir loves Little League and hates dresses, so what does she grow up to be? Gloriously herself." - People Magazine
I have to say that while I was growing up I was considered a “tomboy” however, the meaning of the word to me when I was a kid was just that I was a girl, who liked to do things that boys did. You know, the whole “anything you can do – I can do better”, thing. I had a neighbor down the street who used to do all the boyish things with me, while his sister would do the girly things with me. Just a fun tidbit – that neighbor boy ended up being pretty much the love of my life. If you’re wondering, we’re not together…. (I know! Sad face!!) I moved away in the 9th grade. We stayed in contact until about 10th grade, and then didn’t speak until about a year ago, when I found him on Facebook. In either case, I totally enjoyed my playdates with him, especially because we could just ride our bikes to one another’s house.
Don’t get me wrong; even while I was still a self-proclaimed tomboy, I was still a girl too. I loved my Barbie’s, albeit I may have chopped their hair off at times and made them rage against one another. So even though I was a tomboy, I still had my girlish moments, so while I totally related to most of the book, I felt it was a more severe case of “tomboy-ism” than my childhood. Which, there’s nothing wrong with. I love girls who can kick ass. There’s no better feeling than winning against someone who considers themselves better, stronger, and more apt than you.
The one thing that really upset me about this book was the bullying. It breaks my heart every time I hear a story about bullying. I was fortunate enough to grow up in an environment that accepted tom-boys. I also grew up in the 90’s so wearing baggy clothes, or boys clothes as a girl was pretty much the thing to do. I have to give credit to Liz Prince for being as strong as she was. I’m not quite sure if I could handle that type of pressure. I know I couldn’t now. Maybe as a kid, while I was still resilient I could handle it but definitely not now, because I am just an emotional basket-case with a side of hot mess.
This graphic novel really put things into perspective for me. Like I said I was fortunate to not be bullied growing up. Reading and seeing firsthand the effect that bullying has on a young mind is really eye-opening. Although there were moments of hilarity, I was honestly so pissed off for Liz. I wanted to slap the drawings on the page, for being so damn stupid. Some of her so called friends, YUCK! How dare you!? This poor girl was nothing but sweet to everyone, even when she got feisty.
I adored the older friends that Liz made. Not only did they absolutely inspire her, but they told her how ok it completely ok to be who you are, and not who other people want you be. This is such a great graphic novel for any girl struggling with being bullied for not conforming to society.
Honestly, I think this book should be in every school library around. Not only for the fact that it’s a true story about how a girl can overcome obstacles like bullying and become such a great role model. Even if someone isn’t the unjust victim of bullying, this might just help them recognize the signs of bullying around them and hopefully stop it.
Liz Prince is an autobiographical cartoonist who currently lives outside of Boston, MA, with her two cats, Wolfman and Dracula. Her first book, Will You Still Love Me If I Wet the Bed?, won the Ignatz Award for Outstanding Debut in 2005. She has since published the comic strip collections Delayed Replays and Alone Forever. She has drawn comics for the wildly popular Adventure Time comic series, is a regular contributor to Razorcake magazine, and self-publishes her own comics and zines. She is still a tomboy, and can frequently be found shopping in the boys’ section at thrift stores.
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Zest Books is an award-winning publisher of smart and edgy nonfiction books and memoirs for young and new adults. Distributed by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, you can learn more about Zest Books at http://www.zestbooks.net