April 7, 2008 | Comics


Mariko Tamaki, Jillian Tamaki
Groundwood Books
$18.95 (Hardcover)
**** ½ (out of five)

The biggest problem with many books, films and TV programs that deal with what it’s like to be a teenager is that by the time a writer finally gets around to telling it, they rarely seem to remember what it’s actually like to be in that dreaded age group.
Being a teenager, with few exceptions, frankly sucks. Even for those precious few who enjoyed popularity all its trappings, would likely later confess to dancing on a knife’s edge most of the time.
Being able to tap into that visceral experience, warts and all, is what makes Skim such an amazing read.
Talented Toronto-based writer Mariko Tamaki, in melodious partnership with gifted ex-Albertan artist cousin, Jillian, deliver the illustrated personal journal of Kimberly Keiko Cameron, a.k.a. Skim, a teen battling against society’s expectations of her, her parents’ and peers’ perceptions, and, most definitely, her own feelings of displacement and inadequacy.
As she strives to survive each harsh high school day, Skim is confronted by a number of challenges, from dealing with the death of a classmate’s boyfriend, to trying to decide if her best friend is everything she appears, to falling in love for the first time.
All these subjects are brought to life with such an identifiable pain that it’s hard not to find something in Skim’s experiences that doesn’t give you a somewhat unpleasant twinge in the back of your mind.
A powerful and poignant story that is as perfect a synergy of words and art as you’re likely to find in comics, Skim is a true gem.

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