In the tradition of Persepolis and American Born Chinese, a wry and endearing high school heroine comes of age. Tina M., sophomore, is a wry observer of the cliques and mores of Yarborough Academy, and of the foibles of her Southern California intellectual Indian family. She’s on a first-name basis with Jean-Paul Sartre, the result of an English honors class assignment to keep an “existential diary.”
Keshni Kashyap’s compulsively readable graphic novel – with Mari Araki’s sweet, melancholy drawings – packs in existential high school drama – from Tina getting dumped by her smart-girl ally to a kiss on the mouth (Tina’s mouth, but not technically her first kiss) from a cute skateboarder, Neil Strumminger. And it memorably answers the pressing question: Can an English honors assignment be one fifteen-year-old girl’s path to enlightenment?