Welcome to Imprint Friday and today's featured imprint: Harper Perennial. Stop by each week to be introduced to a must-read title from one of my favorite imprints. I know you'll be adding many of these books to your wish list.
If you've followed my reading adventures at all, you know that one of my favorite genre/medium mixes is the graphic memoir. When I opened today's featured book, MariNaomi's Kiss & Tell: A Romantic Résumé, Ages 0 to 20, I meant simply to take a peek inside. Instead, I ended up immediately reading the memoir front to back in one sitting.
Here's the book description:
From her father and mother's interracial marriage to her own "you show me yours, I'll show you mine" moments on the playground—from drug experimentation to sexual/identity questions—MariNaomi lays her inner life bare. Kiss & Tell is her funny and frank memoir in graphic form: a fresh and offbeat coming-of-age story unfolding against the colorful backdrop of San Francisco in the '80s and '90s. Through deft storytelling and charming illustration, MariNaomi carries us through first love and worst love, through heartbreak and bedroom experimentation, as she grows from misfit teen to young woman.MariNaomi's parents had a "fairy-tale romance with a very happy ending." And so on the day Mari was born, her parents' wishes were as shown in the panel at the right (click to enlarge). Mari's quest for love, beginning before she even enters kindergarten, is messy, funny, sad, and real. Not every kid experiments the way she did, but everyone knows what it's like to have a preteen crush that isn't returned and to have so-called teenage friends you can't completely trust.
Mari bravely reveals her many years of relationships, from the innocent kisses of young children to one-night stands and longer-term boyfriends, including the infidelities and disappointments. Although Mari's story is sometimes uncomfortable, you are drawn in by her stark honesty and willingness to tell it all. Despite turbulent teenage years clouded by drugs, sex, and alcohol, MariNaomi survives to begin a different kind of journey, that of discovering the woman she would become.
The entire memoir is drawn in black and white, as shown in the panel here. Some of the tales are short enough to be told in six panels, but others require forty pages or more. The drawings are cleanly rendered yet emotionally strong.
Be warned: MariNaomi's résumé will make you reflect on your own youth and episodes you hoped you had forgotten.
Here are two other thoughts:
- Kirkus Reviews concludes: "Though there are some dark interludes . . . this is ultimately a celebration of a young girl's life, from [butterfly] larva to wings."
- The Comics Journal introduces their interview with the author: "MariNaomi is one of a handful of autobio cartoonists who have managed to breathe new life into the genre—thanks to her sense of humor, her eye for detail, and an unflinching capacity for telling the truth about her experiences as she saw them at the time."
Harper Perennial is a featured imprint on Beth Fish Reads. For information about the imprint, please read Erica Barmash's welcome note posted here on June 18, 2010. I encourage you to add your reviews of Harper Perennial books to the review link-up page; it's a great way to discover Good Books for Cool People. And don't miss the The Olive Reader, the Harper Perennial blog.