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Mariko & Jillian Tamaki – Skim

August 31, 2015

50. Skim by Mariko Tamaki & Jillian Tamaki (2008)

Length: 141 pages
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Young Adult

Started/Finished: 09 August 2015

Where did it come from? The library.
Why do I have it? Random browsing.

Figuring out who
you are and where you belong
is tough in high school.

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.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Other Reviews: Bart’s Bookshelf, Buried in Print, Regular Rumination, and more at the Book Blogs Search Engine.
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One Comment leave one →
  1. buriedinprint permalink
    September 1, 2015 3:10 pm

    Sounds like I enjoyed this one more than you did, although perhaps because I was not expecting a polished, conventional arc. If you liked it well enough, you might also enjoy their One Last Summer (you can sneak it in before the weather cools!) which also captures mood and place-and-time beautifully (and different moods, mostly, and setting for sure!) and underscores the sense that sometimes there is a profound epiphany but much more of the time we are wandering between epiphanies, seemingly directionless. Thanks for making me want to go reread Skim!

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