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Potential: The High School Comic Chronicles of Ariel Schrag (High School Chronicles of Ariel Schrag) Paperback – May 6, 2008

3.7 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A memoir made while Schrag was still in high school, Potential is an honest, rambling, obsessive narrative of high school angst, with a potential of its own peeking through. The story starts as Schrag comes to terms with the fact that she only likes girls, and then moves into her first failed foray at a relationship, the loss of her virginity and the ups and downs of her first serious lesbian relationship. The plot is bumpy; some segments are awkwardly inserted and lack significant resolution, such as the section focusing on Schrag's attempt to lose her virginity to a guy friend. While an important episode of her adolescence, the segment seems isolated within the larger narrative of Schrag's relationship with her girlfriend, Sally, which is well developed and poignant. The art is very impressive for a comic made by an artist still in high school and matures over the course of the book. The emotional depth of the characters is depicted through vivid and fluid expressions, and Schrag uses different styles to illustrate varying states of consciousness. Schrag's later works are more mature and better formed, but this coming-of-age story amply displays the emotional uncertainty of adolescence. (May)
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Review

"A smart, sweet graphic memoir. Schrag's work should resonate with anyone -- female or male, gay or straight -- who has survived high school." -- Kirkus Reviews (starred)

"A mesmerizing read...hilarious frankness and a wickedly addictive sense of storytelling." -- The Village Voice

"One of the best pure storytellers I have ever read, in any medium." -- The Comics Journal

"Schrag's autobiographical comics illustrate adolescent life with unwavering energy, unrelenting sarcasm, and unabashed detail." -- Bitch
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Product Details

  • Series: High School Chronicles of Ariel Schrag
  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone (May 6, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416552359
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416552352
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 0.8 x 10.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #922,859 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Ariel Schrag's work, POTENTIAL, is a must-read for anybody who has ever been to high school. She tells it how it is - from losing her virginity to smearing goat excrement on a boy's face to endear herself to her girlfriend. Absolutely amazing; if you've ever loved Harriet the spy's adventures, this is for you - in this 200-page tome, Ariel gives the upper East side's favorite young spy a run for her money; Ariel's stories are all true, and told with scientific precision.
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Format: Paperback
Ariel's work is beautiful and compelling. Her high school coming-of-age story is so personal, so awkward, so terrible, and still so delirious with potential... you'll recognize it immediately. Five stars.
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Format: Paperback
"Science is my life!" heroine Ariel proclaims early on in Potential, and it's true. The junior in high school loves her science classes and even tries to figure out with a friend how to distill homemade alcohol--something she thinks would be both a good learning experience and fun.

But there are other, more pressing issues that Ariel must deal with in her junior year of high school. For one thing, she had settled on the label of bisexual after her sophomore year experiences, but she's definitely feeling more and more drawn to the lesbian side. Now if only she could figure out how to navigate the tricky emotional waters of dating during the teenage years.

Ariel Schrag's true-life series of work--which began with freshman year in Awkward and continued in sophomore year's Definition--is as brave as it is funny. Schrag completed each work in the summer after each respective school year, not only putting her own life squarely under the microscope, but also telling the stories of her friends, family, and acquaintances. As her classmates at Berkeley High School in the mid- to late '90s learned, nothing was secret or sacred.

Schrag's abilities both as an artist and a storyteller have greatly improved by the time of Potential. Awkward was a potpourri of images, sometimes far too crowded for one page, but Definition showed real evolution in her work. With Potential, she allows herself plenty of room in which to pace her story, starting slowly with her puppy love relationship with a boy and moving on to the more complicated territory of her lesbian dating life and the emotional effects of her parents' divorce.

Potential, like the work that preceded it, succeeds on several levels, not least of which is that Schrag doesn't rehash coming-of-age tales we've read before.
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Format: Paperback
I have to admit, the style of artwork put me off this book the first times I picked it up. Then I found it at discount and figured, "what the heck?" Well, I had the same initial response to Dilbert and was wrong about that, too.

This second of three high school diaries, all in graphic-novel form, gives a realistically gritty idea of what teens go through when finding an identity, losing a virginity, and generally riding the emotional and hormonal roller coaster of mid-teen years. In Schrag's case, there was the additional pressure of being a girl who liked girls, mitigated by a relatively tolerant California environment in which to establish herself. (That just made it even more annoying to need a boy for that virginity thing. I found the 'SHOVE' moment wonderfully exressive.) Then there's the self-referential aspect of the writing of this comic appearing during the story that it tells.

The visual style comes across a bit raw and ragged, but that seems emotionally true to Schrag's raw and ragged experience of her world. A few dream sequences appear in an ironically realistic style - in fact, even her daydreams seem more realistic than her reality.

If you expect "a day in the life" to make sense, then you probably have slim experience of either teens or girls. But, if you're willing to hang on through the ups and downs, it's a worthwhile ride.

-- wiredweird
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Format: Paperback
Rarely do i like comic books, yet Potential is in a category all its own. Not only is it humorous and witty but it also a personal and real account of ariel schrags junior year of high school. queer youth can definitely relate to this book. A book i would highly recommend but be warned that it is rather addicting.
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Format: Paperback
This is an incredible book; the art/graphics are impressive, and the content is amazing! This book would be enjoyable to high school students and adults alike. I wish I had had the opportunity to read this when in high school.

Ariel Schrag skillfully depicts the many challenges, joys, and experiences of young lesbians in high school (and beyond). She not only portrays her high school experience, first love and her first break up, she wittily comments on the complexities of the formation of her sexual identity, and exposes the real (and raw) anxiety and depression experienced by many students in high school. This book delves into the personal and social pressures of loosing ones virginity, trying to understand virginity as a young lesbian/queer youth, and makes several valiant attempts to identify the all but inscrutable definition of lesbiansex. All of this is done with a great deal vulnerability and humor. The honesty soaking these pages is refreshing. This is an extraordinary piece of art.

If young LGBTQ youth could find this book in their high school libraries, they might feel a little less alone and their lives might just feel just a little less complicated.
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