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Tina's Mouth: An Existential Comic Diary Hardcover – January 3, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* At 15, Tina discovers existentialism and applies it to her own world. The youngest of three children of upper-middle-class, transplanted-to-Southern-California Indian parents, Tina attends a private school where deep thinking, Porsches, and skateboards are all on the list of what’s cool. On weekends she gets roped into visits with her extended family, her parents’ friends, and even a party to celebrate her brother’s soon-to-fail engagement. Her sister avoids meeting with their mother’s consulting matchmaker by getting stoned. And Tina’s longtime best friend dumps her for the popular crowd. Worse, Tina has got a crush on a skater dude whose casual messages are impossible to interpret. Her lone source of satisfaction during this ego-chafing year of school comes from a class project to keep an “existential diary.” Kashyap’s story is clever as well as genuinely felt: Tina’s crush introduces her to the music of Neil Young, saying he is as “super-deep” as the existentialists; Tina lands the lead role in a staging of Rashomon and discovers the pervasive nature of truth as nonsingular; her atheist mom approves her purchase of a plug-in glowing Krishna. Araki’s quirky black-and-white art suits the story well and amplifies the tide of events: the drunken conversations between Tina’s mother and aunt; Tina taking on the challenge of approaching new and potential friends; planning with her sister for their brother’s disengagement party. A complete package that gives both Sartre and Tina their due. Grades 9-12. --Francisca Goldsmith


"Keshni Kashyap's words and Mari Araki's illustrations combine to wonderful effect in this honest and funny graphic novel." —Entertainment Weekly (Must List)

"Tina Fey's snarky humor in a teenager's body and we really can't get enough." —Nylon Magazine

"Instead of just charting the discoveries of a smart kid's adolescence, Tina's Mouth can make you feel them. This is familiar material, yes, but it's familiar in the way of philosophy and pop songs can be: At their best, the breathless feelings, dramatized by Kashyap and Araki might match up to a corresponding one in youand then set it off like fireworks."  San Francisco Weekly

"Slangy and funny and honest, like a mix of John Hughes, J.D. Salinger and Marjane Satrapi."  The A.V. Club

A "charming coming-of-age tale." --Publishers Weekly

"Kashyap's story is clever and genuinely felt...Araki's quirky black-and-white art suits the story well and amplifies the tide of events...A complete package that gives both Sartre and Tina their due."  Booklist, STARRED review

"With her deadpan wit and gift for observation, Kashyap’s Tina brings to mind any number of disaffected teens, but she is also, at heart, a very good girl. A charming, hip, illustrated coming-of-age tale."  Kirkus Reviews

"A completely charming voice...will delight fans of Sartre and Salinger alike."  Aimee Bender, author of The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

"Kashyap perfectly captures the universal angst of high school and puts her own unique, wickedly smart spin on it." Janelle Brown, author of All We Ever Wanted Was Everything

"Kashyap captures the high school universe and articulates teenage angst with a finesse and dry wit that will charm fans of Catcher in the Rye and Juno."  Hyphen Magazine

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; Tenth Edition edition (January 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618945199
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618945191
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #847,287 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Satia Renee VINE VOICE on December 6, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Tina's Mouth: An Existential Comic Diary by Keshni Kashyap and illustrated by Mari Araki is a graphic novel that allows the protagonist to be a teenager without falling into the clichéd stereotypes. Tina is intelligent without being sarcastic at every turn, frustrated with her family without being overwrought with angst, and trying to survive the usual high-school problems, like being dumped by her best-friend, hoping the boy she is crushing on will be her first kiss, and recording her experiences in an existential journal cum school project.

I was hooked at the very beginning when Tina labels the various cliques within her school, all the while unwilling to narrowly define herself except as an outsider. If Tina is oblivious to the irony, the reader cannot help but notice that the labels begin to slip the more Tina writes in her journal. Everyone from her former best-friend to her siblings don't live up to Tina's introduction of them and Tina herself changes, all the while trying to answer the question: Who am I?

Araki's illustrations are a perfect complement to Kashyap's text. Just sophisticated enough without being so highly stylized as to be obviously drawn by someone with decades of experience behind them. Instead the drawings look like something a talented but still inexperienced artist would draw. This is an intelligent choice.

This coming-of-age novel also serves as a gentle introduction to Sartre and existentialism and even a quick sample of a story from the Hinduism tradition that serves as a metaphor. That the writer and artist are able to layer so much and handle it all with so light a touch. For this alone, this graphic novel works better and fulfills above and beyond all expectations.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Paige Turner on December 1, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Don't read this if you have the quaint old-fashioned notion that teenage girls don't talk about anal sex, drunk hook-ups and existentialism!

But if you want to read the most touching, edgy, fun, entertaining look at the world through an American-born girl of Indian descent navigating the shoals of high school life in 2011 California, this book is perfect.

Tina's Mouth succeeds on so many levels: it is funny, sad at times, touching, and very smart. Life as a teenage girl in an immigrant Indian family in California is like you might expect- but a lot different too.

This book is indeed in the vein of "American Born Chinese," but that book dwelled completely on the challenges of ethinicity and second generation immigrants. Tina's Mouth tackles some of that ground, but is much more ambitious, dealing with teen angst, and it even sneaks in a pretty good introduction to existentialism. What I love is that the author does it so subtly that even the most cynical teen will not see what is happening.

There has been an onslaught of "Diary of Wimpy Kid" copycat books, and none have captured the charm of the original. This is the first book that goes beyond "Wimpy Kid." This is better than the best of those books, but the audience is not the same. If you want a quick laugh, read one of the early "Wimpy Kid" books. If you want to laugh, cry, and wonder read "Tina's Mouth."

Because some of the discussion is too risqué for tweens, I would not recommend it for them. But for teens, this book is appropriate because they're talking about these topics at school anyway whether you admit it to yourself as a parent or not.

One of the best "graphic novels" of the year.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By OpheliasOwn VINE VOICE on December 10, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I teach Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi in my senior literature class, so I was excited to find this book being compared to that book. While I think the comparison is too loose to be of any use to readers (like everything even remotely dystopian being called "the next Hunger Games"), I don't think this is a story to be discounted. Tina's Mouth: An Existential Comic Diary by Keshni Kashyap may not be the next Persepolis, but that doesn't mean it isn't an interesting story!

Tina is Indian American. She isn't religious and her family has not arranged a marriage for her. She is a pretty normal American teenager living in California, in fact. When her teacher gives them year long project on existentialism and encourages them to find out who they really are, she decides to keep a diary devoted to the project (which the teacher will mail back to them after 3 years). Along her journey, and dialogue with John Paul Sartre, Tina uncovers some universal truths about herself and about adolescence.

The story follows Tina as she takes the opportunity an decides to get more involved by joining the school play. She makes friends, loses friends, is heartbroken by friends. She sees her family for who they really are, including one very lonely and confused brother. She has a crush, has her first (and miserable) first kiss, her first love, and her first heartbreak. Tina lives the same life we all have lived, but she does so with the added challenge of examining her choices and the world around her for this project. The result is a realization that some of us still haven't made!

I struggled to like this book at first because I kept comparing it to Persepolis (thank you marketing department).
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