Tuesday, January 3, 2012
Illustrated by Mari Araki
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012
Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
I've been really into books with illustrations so that was my point of interest about this book. I wanted to see a story where language and drawings complemented each other and told me a story I enjoyed.
In that regard the story succeeded. Tina is a sophomore at a fancy private school in California who loses her sole best friend to a popular fashionable girl and feels out to sea. But a school assignment in her favorite class leads to a journal addressed to Jean-Paul Sartre and featuring existential musings and jokes. Admittedly the story told was pretty stereotypical but there were a few outstanding moments.
One of those would be the instance for the title which comes from Tina's aunt relating a Krishna story
about a person opening a mouth to show the universe inside. The artwork on that was quite lovely and elaborate although not in color, something I'm not sure is true of the final copy. I think I would have preferred color drawings because in general they were a bit bland.
I also really enjoyed the family dynamics of a big Indian family (older siblings living at home and extended family in the area) and seeing Tina learn to negotiate the confused social interactions of high schoolers. She was long on the outskirts but actually gets to navigate a bit within the popular crowd including encounters with her popular crush. Still in the end, Tina remains true to herself and changes only for the better.
Overall: A sweet YA graphic novel with a good main character.