Tomboy: A Graphic Memoir
Growing up, Liz Prince wasn't a girly girl, but she wasn't exactly one of the guys either (as she learned when her little league baseball coach exiled her to the distant outfield). She was somewhere in between. But with the forces of middle school, high school, parents, friendship, and romance pulling her this way and that, the middle wasn't an easy place to be. Tomboy follows award-winning author and artist Liz Prince through her early years and explores--with humor, honesty, and poignancy--what it means to be a girl. From staunchly refuting girliness to the point of misogyny, to discovering through the punk community that your identity is whatever you make of it, Tomboy offers a sometimes hilarious, sometimes heartbreaking account of self-discovery in modern America.
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About the Author
Liz Prince has been a comic artist and a self-publisher since she was in high school in the mid-1990s. In 2005, her book Will You Still Love Me If I Wet the Bed? was published by Top Shelf Productions; it won an Ignatz Award for Outstanding Debut. Tomboy is her first full-length graphic novel, a memoir about adolescence and gender stereotypes. She has published comics in numerous anthologies, drawn stories for the wildly popular Adventure Time series, and is a columnist for the punk magazine Razorcake.
"Prince explores what it means to be a tomboy in a magnificently evocative graphic memoir. From the age of 2, Liz knows she hates dresses. As a child, she wears boys clothes and plays with boys. However, as she enters her teen years, things change. Still wishing to dress like a boy and disdainful of all things girly--including the inevitable biology of puberty--she stays true to herself and her identity, but not without struggling to fit into a teenage society that neatly compartmentalizes how boys and girls should act. Liz's troubles are magnified as she navigates the ways of the heart, falling for boys who often pass her over for girls who are more feminine. As she stumbles and bumbles her way to friends who will accept her, she pulls readers along that oh-so-tough and bumpy road of adolescence. Simple, line-based art provides a perfect complement to her keen narration, giving this an indie, intimate feel and leaving readers feeling like they really know her. Liz's story, captured with wry humor and a deft, visceral eye, is a must-read for fans who fell for Raina Telgemeier's work in middle school. Spectacular; a book to make anyone think seriously about society's preordained gender roles."--starred, Kirkus Reviews--Journal
"Comics creator Prince (Will You Still Love Me If I Wet the Bed?) makes her YA debut with a candid graphic memoir about growing up resisting all forms of girliness. Early on, Liz's family supports her wardrobe choices (blazers and baseball caps) and her interest in Little League; her schoolmates are merely puzzled. When she arrives at middle school, though, the pressure starts to build. Girlfriends whose sexuality is beginning to develop leave her behind or use her as a prop, and boys bully her relentlessly: 'Loser dykes spotted in the wild!' Liz resists becoming a sexual being, and Prince's artwork resists sexuality, too; the cast is a series of endearing, childlike figures (even when they're smoking). A running visual expresses Liz's attempts to negotiate predetermined gender roles by marking out a figure that resists the standard bathroom-door symbols for 'male' and 'female.' Prince's most important revelation--that in dressing like a boy, 'I subscribed to the idea that there was only one form of femininity and that it was inferior to being a man'--gives readers space to question their own acquiescence to gender stereotypes."--Publishers Weekly--Journal
"Prince knew from an early age that she was not a typical girl. The only pictures of her in a dress were from when she was a baby and could not protest. She hates dresses and all things 'girly.' Fortunately, she had supportive parents who did not force her into traditional gender roles and who let her wear the kinds of clothing she wanted. Most of Prince's friends were boys, and her fantasies and playtime were devoted to being a hero, not a princess. Her wardrobe choices made her the target of ridicule and bullying in Boston and in Santa Fe, where her family moved when she was in early elementary school. In their first neighborhood, most of her friends were boys, but she found some girlfriends after the family moved. It was the first time she found girls with similar interests in comics and Ghostbusters, and it was also when she realized that she did not want to be a boy but, rather, wanted the freedom that came with being one. Meeting a good friend of her mother's, who encouraged her talent and interest in comics, and transferring to a very small, highly experimental high school helped her become comfortable with her choice as a tomboy. Purchase where graphic novel memoirs are in demand."--School Library Journal--Journal
"Is there any grade-school struggle more defining than the desire to fit in? In her first full-length graphic novel, award-winning comics artist Prince tells the story of her lifelong battle with gender stereotypes through the lens of her tomboy childhood, marked by a preference for male role models, slouchy oversize clothes, and some serious bullying. As a kid, Prince chafed at femininity--'Given the chance, I'd much rather wield a sword than wear a tiara'--but her offbeat choices made it hard for her to find friends or a boyfriend. She starts to believe that her disinterest in being girly is what makes her unlikable, and soon she feels embarrassed by being a girl altogether. Luckily, she eventually finds a group of people who appreciate her differences and don't expect her to act a particular way just because she is a girl. Prince's tongue-in-cheek black-and-white line drawings, in a charming style reminiscent of Jeffrey Brown's autobiographical comics, pack a punch in this empowering memoir that should have ample appeal for any kid who feels like an outsider."--Booklist--Journal
"A real slash and burn of gender stereotypes, this title delivers a unique message for both teens and adults about finding your own way despite cultural conventions. Fans of Jeffrey Brown's autobiographical comics will also enjoy it."--Library Journal--Journal
"'When you don't look or act like what everyone has been told is the norm, you get proverbially barfed on a lot.' In an often funny, sometimes painful, and sharply observed graphic memoir, comics artist and self-described tomboy Prince views her formative years through the lens of gender--or rather, society's rigid rules for gender conformity. Chronicling the evolution of her thoughts about her own identity--'Maybe I am a boy . . .'-- Prince examines deeply ingrained cultural assumptions about the sexes. The narrative takes a satisfying shape, and Prince's honest voice and self-deprecating humor help make young Liz a sympathetic and relatable character. The simply rendered black-and-white panel drawings have an unpretentious quality, in keeping with the narrative tone. Prince's childhood and adolescent trials and tribulations will resonate with readers in general, but it's all compounded by her unwavering gender nonconformity. She's frequently humiliated and even bullied in elementary and middle school, but she comes through the tumult of puberty to find a community of like- and open-minded 'misfits' and 'dweebs' in high school (including a boyfriend) who share her interests in comics, punk music, and zines. More importantly, she discovers that tomboy and girl don't have to be mutually exclusive."--The Horn Book Magazine--Journal