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Skim by Mariko Tamaki


by Mariko Tamaki, Jillian Tamaki (Illustrator)

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7095513,323 (3.77)33
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This is a beautiful, poignant story. Mostly I enjoyed this book because it was like a blast from the past. MY past, to be specific. As a 16 year old, I was ostracized for being “different”, for my exclusively all black wardrobe, my interest in the supernatural, and my quiet, introspective personality. The things that the main protagonist experiences were easily things that I, too experienced. I had a lost sense of self, and I struggled to learn who I was as a person. I didn’t want to be like everyone else at my school, who would have acted exactly like the characters in this graphic novel if a popular student killed themselves. It’s all about THEM. Yes a student kills themselves, but, somehow, they turn it into why it’s important for them personally. And suddenly everyone’s in mourning, even the people didn’t even know the person.
I didn’t practice wicca and I’m not into ladies, but other than that, this graphic novel could have been written about me. I related to it on such a personal level that once I started reading it, I pretty much finished it all in one sitting. I found myself repeatedly saying, “Wow this is who I was when I was 16.”
While the words further the story and the plotline along, the pictures are also important. Images are shown but not discussed, situations happen that aren’t spoken about. You’re meant to take it all in. This story also has the character growing by the conclusion. It’s not just about a girl who is experiencing the isolation that goes with high school, but about a girl who experiences things and grows from them. Friendships dissolve and new friends are made. The hierarchy of popularity shifts and expands. Skim learns more about who she is and how being different and a bit “weird” is all relative. You are who you are, and I think she even begins to embrace it by the story’s conclusion. It’s written in as a first person narrative, as though to a diary. It’s very stream of conscious, so you’ll feel like you’re reading someone’s diary, with the benefit of also seeing words in connection to the diary. ( )
  Lauraborealis | Dec 22, 2016 |
I think if I were more comfortable or experienced with the genre I would have liked this more, but I had a hard time following the story. It felt disjointed and I had a hard time following back and forth from the journal entry bits to the narrative bits; and I wasn't able to follow along between what really happened and what only happened in Skim's head, so overall I just felt confused. ( )
  aclaybasket13 | Jul 29, 2016 |
Yes, I've reached the end of my journey with Jillian Tamaki. I just finished her first work with her cousin Mariko entitled Skim. One thing is for certain...Tamaki has the corner market on teenage angst. (As you can probably tell, I'm over the angst.) The story follows a girl named Kim who is your typical teen who believes she's a practicing witch. (Normal for Willow on Buffy the Vampire Slayer so...) You might be wondering why Kim is nicknamed Skim. Me too. The explanation given didn't make much sense to me so I'm not going to even bother telling you. In Kim's school there is a preoccupation with suicide and depression. Most of the other students believe that Kim is at risk and as a result a lot of unwanted attention is turner her way. She develops an unconventional relationship with someone (I'm vague to avoid spoilers) and her relationships with others suffer. SO MUCH ANGST. I did enjoy this one more than This One Summer but it is by no means the best graphic novel I've ever read (that honor goes to Through the Woods by Emily Carroll). If you like manga type illustrations then you might enjoy this one for the aesthetic value alone but if you're looking for a WHOA kind of book then you might want to keep looking. ( )
  AliceaP | Mar 25, 2016 |
I thought this book was incredibly sad, but works really well for high school students going through the struggle of coming out and finding friends.
  kali.joy | Sep 28, 2015 |
Summary: Skim is the nickname of Kimberly Keiko Cameron, given to her by her classmates because she's not. She doesn't fit in with the pretty popular crowd, and she's much more into Wicca and goth culture with her friend Lisa. When a classmate's boyfriend dumps her and then commits suicide, Skim's high school is turned upside down in a seeming frenzy of public grieving, leaving Skim - who didn't really know either her classmate or her ex-boyfriend - even more ostracized, which causes her to spiral into an ever-deepening depression.

Review: I'm having a hard time deciding how I feel about Skim. It didn't really have a distinct story arc, per se, and it felt more like "a year in the life" coming of age than anything else. There was the arc of Skim suffering through, and eventually starting to recover from, her depression, but I didn't feel like the resolution of that story, nor of several other subplots, was particularly strong - the book ended in what I felt to be a strange, unfinished place. But still, I thought this book captured a lot of things really accurately about depression, and high school, and how different people process death - very accurately. There's no easy simplistic solution here, nor does this book sugar coat things, but there is ultimately some sense of hope, which I think is a very fine balance to strike.

I had a similarly ambiguous reaction to the art. This book is formatted and narrated primarily as Skim's journal, although with segments that are more traditional storytelling narration, which mostly worked for me although was occasionally a little jarring as it switched back and forth. The style of the artwork was not my favorite - characters were mostly recognizable but their faces didn't always look realistic, which was was strange given the realism of much of the other detail in the scenes. There were some absolutely lovely images, though, especially some of the full page/two page scenes. Ultimately, while this book didn't entirely come together for me, what *was* there was very good. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: It reminded me a lot of Nate Powell's Swallow Me Whole, although not as bleak as I found that one to be. Recommended for those who have, are, or know someone who has struggled with depression. ( )
1 vote fyrefly98 | Aug 13, 2015 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Tamaki, MarikoAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Tamaki, JillianIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
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To Sam, Charissa, and our families,
who make us happy
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Dear Diary,

Today Lisa said, "Everyone thinks they are unique."

That is not unique!!
My school = goldfish tank of stupid.
Being sixteen is officially the worst thing I've ever been.
This is the thing about school dances. They make like it's supposed to be this other-worldly thing, but really it's just the people you see every day dressed up, standing in the gym in the dark with Red Hot Chili Peppers playing.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0888997531, Hardcover)

The time is the early 1990s, the setting a girls' academy in Toronto. Enter "Skim," aka Kimberly Keiko Cameron, a not-slim, would-be Wiccan goth. When her classmate Katie Matthews is dumped by her boyfriend, who then kills himself, the entire school goes into mourning overdrive. It's a weird time to fall in love, but Skim does just that after secret meetings with her neo-hippie English teacher, Ms. Archer. When Ms. Archer abruptly leaves the school, Skim has to cope with her confusion and isolation, as her best friend, Lisa, tries to pull her into "real" life by setting up a hilarious double date for the school's semi-formal. Skim finds an unexpected ally in Katie. Suicide, depression, love, being gay or not, crushes, cliques of popular, manipulative peers — the whole gamut of tortured teen life is explored in this masterful graphic novel by cousins Mariko and Jillian Tamaki.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:28 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"Skim" (Kimberly Keiko Cameron) is a not-slim would-be Wiccan goth who goes to a private girls' school. When her classmate Katie is dumped by her boyfriend, who then kills himself, the entire school goes into mourning overdrive. The popular clique stars a club to boost school spirit, but Skim sinks into an ever-deepening depression.… (more)

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