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The Diary of a Teenage Girl: An Account in Words and Pictures Paperback – November 14, 2002

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Frog Books; New edition edition (November 14, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1583940634
  • ISBN-13: 978-1583940631
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.4 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #280,589 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Gloeckner's latest, a combination of comics and prose, follows the sexual misadventures and coming-of-age of Minnie Goetze, a troubled teenager very much reminiscent of Gloeckner, as she stumbles toward adulthood in 1970s San Francisco. Minnie's diary details the loss of her virginity to Monroe, her mother's less than devoted boyfriend. She falls in love with him, though he continues to sleep with Minnie's self-absorbed, drunken mother. A hellish adolescence follows: Minnie's kicked out of various schools, has promiscuous sex and ends up on the streets, strung out and obsessed with a young lesbian who pimps her out for more drugs. Gloeckner mined these same experiences in her award-winning graphic novel A Child's Life. In this work, though, Minnie's story is told through a combination of prose, illustrations and comics, capturing the confused inner dialogue of a precocious, attention-starved girl with a talent for drawing. This is both the book's strength and its weakness. Unlike the highly distilled emotions of A Child's Life, the prose descriptions of Minnie's experiences are engaging but formless, bleeding onto the page. The crisp details of Gloeckner's b&w drawings help by grounding the stories in a convincing realism, but they're obviously the product of an older, more judgmental, but also more reflective, self. More affecting are the casual teenage doodlings and comics that Gloeckner includes periodically throughout the book. Though not related directly to the story, they seem a more honest depiction of the necessary but casual self-reflection that a diary can help keep alive.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School-Fifteen-year-old Minnie Goetze's life is ugly. As the book opens, she asks her mother's 35-year-old boyfriend to have sex with her and he complies. She has many horrible things happen to her, including rape, some of which are the result of her own poor choices. Despite what should have been a privileged family life, there are no healthy or affectionate adults in her life. This story is brutal and raw but Minnie, for all of her teen angst, self-absorption, and self-degradation, shines on every page. Despite the fact that everyone in her young life has used, abused, or abandoned her, Minnie is a valiant and formidable character. She may feel lonely and unloved, but she is never completely lost. Her call to a suicide hot line late in the book is ironic because it gets her the best advice: she has a free will and she doesn't have to become like the dysfunctional people around her. The novel is a mix of primarily diary entries, with occasional illustrations and short "scenes" in graphic-novel format. In the dedication, the author writes that the book is "for all the girls when they have grown," and that is the best criterion for determining the book's readership. Some of the illustrations are sexually explicit and the subject matter and language are definitely for mature readers. Minnie's story of abuse and neglect is one that is rarely told, and rarer still, told so well.
Jane Halsall, McHenry Public Library District, IL
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

Unique, honest and raw.
And yet one has the very clear feeling that these experiences will shape Minnie in unique ways and that surviving them will make her stronger and will feed her talent.
I read this book in one sitting.
Laura N Stoland

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Maria E. Barabtarlo on December 11, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Ever since reading 'A Child's Life,' I'd been looking forward to this book, and I was not disappointed. Phoebe Gloeckner's 15-year-old fictional alter-ego, Minnie, keeps a journal that is sharply observant, articulate, and funny, without crossing the line into the 'adult over-writing' that often plagues adults' versions of children's diaries. The setting (1970s San Francisco) makes many of the things that Minnie describes matter-of-factly seem jarring when you step back--affairs with older men, 'responsible' parental drug use, etc. Yet when you're reading the book, Minnie's world envelops you completely.
Unlike many other (quite believable) teenage characters, Minnie does not even pretend to be cool or detached. She blatantly states her craving to be loved, hugged, touched. The dynamics of her affair with her mother's boyfriend, in which she tends to be the sexual instigator, are fascinating and heartbreaking at the same time. The juxtaposition of the sordid and the innocent is seamless: one minute Minnie and her best friend are swigging schnapps and passing joints on their way to a sexual encounter with a married man; the next, they're running down the street laughing, stuffing their faces with dime-store candy.
Gloeckner's drawings are plush and emotional, detailing specific blocks in San Francisco and capturing facial expressions with equal care.
Anyone who likes to be swept up wholly into a character's life should enjoy this unusual book.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By R. Smith on March 25, 2003
Format: Paperback
It was probably a decade ago when I first began seeing Phoebe Gloeckner's work in a handful of low rent independent comics. Initially it may have been the intensely rendered pornographic sequences that snared my attention, but there was something about her work that always drew me in further; a kind of downward-spiraling confessional verisimilitude one seldom encounters in any medium. She depicted familial discord and childhood cruelties with precisely the sort of raw, unflinching honesty that seemed to elude every other R. Crumb wannabe on the circuit. And her stories had a way of churning uncomfortably in my mind long after the last bitter panel, almost as though a close friend had revealed a dark secret.
With "Diary of A Teenage Girl," Gloeckner revisits the same dodgy terrain of her earlier comics, with strips and illustrations now being used more as a kind of episodic punctuation to the diary-based narrative. The cumulative effect may lack some of the signature boundary-crushing sting exhibited in her 1998 collection, "A Child's Life," but readers are rewarded with an eerily convincing character portrait and a disquieting coming-of-age story that avoids cheap coming-of-age clichés.
Set in San Francisco during the late 1970s, the main (presumably autobiographical) story recounts a tumultuous span in the life of Minnie Goetze, a likable, artistically precocious 15-year-old girl who has become caught up in a sexual relationship with her mother's sleazy, self-actualizing boyfriend. Longing for genuine affection and trying desperately to make sense of her situation, Minnie makes the usual self-destructive choices, finding clarity and purpose only in her slowly emerging identity as an artist. Gloeckner doesn't condescend or gloss over ugly details.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Hugo Schwyzer on March 14, 2003
Format: Paperback
I am the first to admit I know very little about the world of underground comics. A student of mine recommended this book to me, and I ordered a copy from Amazon out of mild curiosity; I ended up reading through it in one sitting.
Gloeckner's fifteen year-old protagonist, Minnie Goetze, is a superbly realized, multi-dimensional, picaresque character like few others I have encountered in adolescent-oriented American fiction. Though the frank descriptions and visual images of Minnie's often self-destructive sexual encounters may disturb some readers (and perhaps titillate others), the genius of this book lies in Gloeckner's extraordinary ability to capture the mercurial, labile emotions of this clever, troubled young diarist. As a male reviewer, I realize that it is problematic for me to write this, but from my professional and personal experience, Gloeckner's understanding of "American female fifteen year-oldness" is pitch-perfect, even if Minnie's actual life is unlike that of most (but not all) of the adolescents with whom I work.
"Diary of a Teenage Girl" is also a damning indictment of the world in which Minnie grows up. The adults in the book are, for the most part irresponsible, incorrigibly self-obsessed, exploitative and ineffective. Minnie was born at the dawn of the 60s, and has come of age in the immediate aftermath of the "summer of love". The rhetoric of the age of Aquarius is on the lips of many of the adults -- but the free love of the adult world has meant nothing but exploitation and alienation for Minnie.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Ian Vance on January 22, 2005
Format: Paperback
Now acclaimed for her work as a bio-graphic designer and underground cartoonist, Phoebe Gloeckner developed her prodigious skill through a trial of fire: enduring the hormone-clouded squall of pubescence amidst the flotsam and jetsam of the San Francisco post-Aquarius `free-love' era. Precocious to a fault and lacking serious support from her immediate family, young Phoebe embarked upon the adolescent journey with karma to burn, seeking love in all the wrong faces and finding life-experience with equal measures of trauma and understanding. Part of this harrowing path was detailed in Gloeckner's graphic-novel *A Child's Life*, and many of the gaps in that compilation are filled in with her first novel, *The Diary of a Teenage Girl*, which, though nowhere near as explicit or shocking as that first endeavor of purgation, is a fairly stressful read by itself - and an invaluable testament to the mindset of a young woman trapped in an indifferent, exploitative world, with nowhere to go but down.

The story, in a nutshell: Minnie Getz, age fifteen, has moved out to San Francisco with her mother and stepfather, who promptly split up right after arriving. Her mother's boyfriend, a pathetic alcoholic by the name of Monroe, seduces Minnie, indoctrinating too early the pleasures and pain of intimacy. The people around Minnie still swim in the more dangerous ideals of the late 60's - the `Aquarius Ethic' of free love, drug abuse and casual exploitation (never mind that the actual astrological Aquarius-shift won't occur until 2160) - Minnie floats among her mother's degenerate friends and paramours, and soon enough finds her own in the gutters and alleyways of South San Fran.
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