Girl Stories, by Lauren Weinstein

This graphic novel, which received a Publisher Weekly starred review, begins with a series of stories about Lauren while she makes her way through eighth grade. She has to deal with all the traditional tween issues. Her parents are lame, she’s not part of the cool clique, and when they finally go to her house they find her Barbies. The cool kids end up ganging up on her, she doesn’t have any friends, and the only person she truly connects with is a spirit of Morrissey. She tells the reader about her dislike for Christmas (she’s Jewish) and her hatred for volleyball (which is what she imagines hell looks like). Then Lauren begins high school. She goes egging with the cool kids, makes out with a skater boy, gets her belly button pierced, has a dysfunctional family Thanksgiving, crams for math tests, breaking up, best friends, and self-esteem.

The vignettes are all short, colorful stories about life for a 13- or 14-year-old girl. They are very honest, even manic at times, and deal truthfully with a wide range of issues. This graphic novel would appeal to girls in that age group who are facing any number of these problems themselves. I think middle school girls could appreciate the insanity of Lauren’s life and empathize with her melodramatic approach to life.

Why I recommend this graphic novel:
This is definitely for older readers, but would be great for any middle- or high-schooler. It would help these girls recognize they are not alone with their issues. My favorite part is about self-esteem: Weinstein writes a section called “Am I fat?” and then discusses the feedback she got from her original online comic on the issue. She concludes: “We all need to do something else besides worry about our weight,” and then offers a list of suggestions, like raising a puppy, getting a pilot’s license, discovering the cure for AIDS, or making a bust of Kurt Cobain out of macaroni (p. 206-208). It is always good for tween and teen girls to know they’re not alone. Lauren is not a role model, but she is an average, ordinary girl. That is what makes this graphic novel so appealing.

Weinstein, Lauren. Girl Stories. Henry Holt and Co., 2006. Gr. 8+

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