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

4.2 out of 5 stars 90 customer reviews

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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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Product Details

  • Paperback: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Frog Books; New edition edition (November 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1583940634
  • ISBN-13: 978-1583940631
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (90 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #717,606 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Paperback
Phoebe Gloeckner succeeded in charting her course through a difficult marriage between two forms of storytelling that have often been at odds with each other. Literature has never been kind to comics but Gloeckner seamlessly switches from words to images which complement each other and make this book a real page turner.
I am a devout fan of Gloeckner's work, let there be no secret about it. In an ongoing effort to interest my girlfriend in comics I give her contemporary comics by women. "The Diary of a Teenage Girl" was such a gift. However, I read the book cover to cover before she could ever get to it. Unfortunately there are not to many published U.S. women comics artists out there. Those who are published have very unique individual voices which stand high above the bleak mannerism that has been plaguing American comics in the second half of the last decade. Gloeckner is at the top of her game.
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