Informative reading for young people seeking creative ways to break the chains of social anxiety.

IMPROVE

HOW I DISCOVERED IMPROV AND CONQUERED SOCIAL ANXIETY

“Yes, and” your way out of social anxiety.

Part memoir, part introduction to the world of improv comedy, this graphic memoir follows illustrator Graudins from childhood through her young adult years. Graudins admired the confidence and camaraderie of the theater kids at her school, and although she attempted to join them, her social anxiety—represented as a devilish doppelgänger—stopped her from fully participating. This voice of self-doubt follows her throughout her academic career and is often represented only by black thought balloons that dominate panels with negative ruminations and fear. That artistic choice works well, as readers unfamiliar with anxiety will immediately understand the weight and all-consuming oppressive nature of the condition. After flirting with improv in college and being challenged by a therapist to be more proactive in addressing her anxiety, Graudins enrolled in beginners’ improv, and the narrative shifts from a traditional memoir to cover extensive information about improv. Readers who are interested in this art will find this a valuable and well-written introductory guide. Those who are more interested in other aspects of Graudins’ story may find the nuanced information about improv lessons tedious. The clean, appealing, cartoon-style art is particularly effective at showing improv exercises and expressing Graudins’ inner emotions.

Informative reading for young people seeking creative ways to break the chains of social anxiety. (author’s note, further reading, games) (Graphic nonfiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-20823-1

Page Count: 240

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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Small but mighty necessary reading.

THE NEW QUEER CONSCIENCE

From the Pocket Change Collective series

A miniature manifesto for radical queer acceptance that weaves together the personal and political.

Eli, a cis gay white Jewish man, uses his own identities and experiences to frame and acknowledge his perspective. In the prologue, Eli compares the global Jewish community to the global queer community, noting, “We don’t always get it right, but the importance of showing up for other Jews has been carved into the DNA of what it means to be Jewish. It is my dream that queer people develop the same ideology—what I like to call a Global Queer Conscience.” He details his own isolating experiences as a queer adolescent in an Orthodox Jewish community and reflects on how he and so many others would have benefitted from a robust and supportive queer community. The rest of the book outlines 10 principles based on the belief that an expectation of mutual care and concern across various other dimensions of identity can be integrated into queer community values. Eli’s prose is clear, straightforward, and powerful. While he makes some choices that may be divisive—for example, using the initialism LGBTQIAA+ which includes “ally”—he always makes clear those are his personal choices and that the language is ever evolving.

Small but mighty necessary reading. (resources) (Nonfiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09368-9

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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Best enjoyed by preexisting fans of the author.

CONTINUUM

From the Pocket Change Collective series

Deaf, trans artist Man meditates on his journey and identity in this brief memoir.

Growing up in conservative central Pennsylvania was tough for the 21-year-old Deaf, genderqueer, pansexual, and biracial (Chinese/White Jewish) author. He describes his gender and sexual identity, his experiences of racism and ableism, and his desire to use his visibility as a YouTube personality, model, and actor to help other young people like him. He is open and vulnerable throughout, even choosing to reveal his birth name. Man shares his experiences of becoming deaf as a small child and at times feeling ostracized from the Deaf community but not how he arrived at his current Deaf identity. His description of his gender-identity development occasionally slips into a well-worn pink-and-blue binary. The text is accompanied and transcended by the author’s own intriguing, expressionistic line drawings. However, Man ultimately falls short of truly insightful reflection or analysis, offering a mostly surface-level account of his life that will likely not be compelling to readers who are not already fans. While his visibility and success as someone whose life represents multiple marginalized identities are valuable in themselves, this heartfelt personal chronicle would have benefited from deeper introspection.

Best enjoyed by preexisting fans of the author. (Memoir. 12-18)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-22348-2

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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