I had a dream I put my hands inside my chest and held my heart to try to keep it still.
Authors: Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki
Publication: January 1st 2008 by Groundwood Books
Summary from Goodreads:
Heartbreakingly funny, moving and vibrantly drawn, Skim is an extraordinary book–a smart and sensitive graphic novel of the highest literary and artistic quality, by and about young women.
“Skim” is Kimberly Keiko Cameron, a not-slim, would-be Wiccan goth who goes to a private girls’ school. When Skim’s classmate Katie Matthews is dumped by her boyfriend, who then kills himself, the entire school goes into mourning overdrive. As concerned guidance counselors provide lectures on the “cycle of grief,” and the popular clique starts a new club (Girls Celebrate Life!) to bolster school spirit, Skim sinks into an ever-deepening depression.
And falling in love only makes things worse…
Suicide, depression, love, being gay or not, crushes, cliques, and finding a way to be your own fully human self–are all explored in this brilliant collaboration by cousins Mariko and Jillian Tamaki. An edgy, keenly observed and poignant glimpse into the heartache of being young.
I feel like a terrible human being for saying this, but I found Skim to be horribly underwhelming. I was excited to read it. I’d heard nothing but good things about it, my Professor said it was her favorite of the Graphic Novels we had to read for the unit in class, and a majority (not all) of my classmates seemed to enjoy it as well. Then, there was me and a few others sitting over in our selective corner of ‘meh’. The art was beautiful, and paired with the writing, it added so much meaning – but I was still left with an overall sense of ‘that was it?’ after reading. I can’t even pinpoint what it was exactly, but I will certainly try.
My first issue, and this is the only one I’m set on, was the lack of plot. Things happened, sure, but nothing actually happened. There was this and then that and then some of this again. On and on it went. While it works as an idea, trying to read something lacking in the plot department is both trying and an emotional drain. I felt like I was wasting my time just waiting for something to happen. Plus, the whole relationship with the teacher – it was like it happened with no warning and then was never spoken about again. I might be the only one who was caught off guard by it, but I can’t possibly be the only one who thinks there needed to be more in the aftermath? I just found it to be lacking. The one element that added a bit of umph, fell flat.
Something else that played a part in my being let down was the character development. I felt as if we both never got to know the characters and then as if nothing ever changed with them. I didn’t feel connected to anyone. I felt estranged from the book, and that ruined my reading experience. I am a very character driven reader, I have to connect with someone in order to really get into the book, and that didn’t happen here in Skim. While I was interested (not really), I wasn’t invested. I didn’t care about anyone or anything that was happening and I ultimately felt as if the whole graphic novel was missing sort of a waste of paper? Gosh, I’m horrible for saying that, but that’s how I feel.
I am oh so glad I didn’t purchase this book for class. I got to return it to the library and and now I get to walk away and wash my hands of it. While Skim was attempting to handle topics like suicide and depression, it fell flat in its delivery and ultimately suffered because of it. What should have been a powerful and gripping read felt as if it were nothing more than a snapshot of something that needed to be much bigger and more carefully thought out. Sorry to all the Skim lovers out there, but it simply wasn’t for me. No thank you.