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Skim Paperback – February 23, 2010

4.6 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This auspicious graphic novel debut by cousins Mariko and Jillian Tamaki tells the story of "Skim," aka Kimberly Keiko Cameron, a goth girl in an all-girls school in Toronto, circa the early '90s. Skim is an articulate, angsty teenager, the classic outsider yearning for some form of acceptance. She begins a fanciful romance with her English teacher, Ms. Archer, while nursing her best friend through a period of mourning. The particulars of the story may not be its strong suit, though. It's Jillian's artwork that sets it apart from the coming-of-age pack. Jillian has a swooping, gorgeous pen line-expressive, vibrant and precise all at once. Her renderings of Skim and her friends, Skim alone or just the teenage environment in which the story is steeped are evocative and wondrous. Like Craig Thompson's Blankets, the inky art lifts the story into a more poetic, elegiac realm. It complements Mariko's fine ear for dialogue and the incidentals and events of adolescent life. Skim is an unusually strong graphic novel-rich in visuals and observations, and rewarding of repeated readings. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From School Library Journal

Grade 10 Up–Kimberly Keiko Cameron–aka Skim–is a mixed-race high school student struggling with identity, friendships, and romantic yearning. After her parents' divorce, she turns to tarot cards and Wicca to make sense of life but finds herself disappointed with the lack of answers they provide. She finds herself increasingly intrigued by Ms. Archer, her free-spirited English teacher. Her interest becomes obsessive and it begins to drive a wedge between her and her best friend, Lisa. Although Skim originally makes light of the half-hearted suicide attempts of popular Katie, whose ex-boyfriend committed suicide, the two of them begin to open up to one another. Skim soon realizes that perfect Katie is far funnier, more genuine, and more traumatized than she originally thought–particularly when it comes to light that John shot himself due to his homosexuality. Drawn in an expressive, fluid style and with realistic dialogue, this work accurately depicts the confusion of teenage years, with its rejection of previous identity and past relationships and search for a newer and truer identity; additionally, insider/outsider status is a reoccurring theme. Skim's internal monologue is diarylike, with an interesting use of scratched-out words. This is a good but somewhat standard work.–Dave Inabnitt, Brooklyn Public Library, NY
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: Skim
  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Groundwood Books; Reprint edition (February 23, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 088899964X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0888999641
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 0.4 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #122,527 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
SKIM is gorgeous. Canadian cousins Mariko and Jillian Tamaki are to be praised for such smart, sensitive, sophisticated treatment of unyielding material. Coaxing a suspenseful, surprising, hopeful narrative out of the anti-narrative horror of high school is no easy feat, but coaxing one out that remains true to the recursive slowness of the experience, the smothering isolation of it-- AND leaves you cheering for the heroine in the end-- is all the more impressive.

The Tamakis explore the complex experience of their heroine, Kim Keiko Cameron, by tapping the full potential of graphic novels to offer the reader multiple channels through which to take in information. The verbal line of the novel, with two magnificent exceptions, is the reader's primary guide through the lesbian strand of Kim's experience, while the visual line, with one heartbreaking flashback, is the primary medium through which Kim's Japanese-Canadian heritage is given witness: her mother breaking noodles, her father's thing for Asian women.

Most arresting, visually, is Jillian Tamaki's choice to give Kim the face of a traditional Japanese beauty. Short eyebrow-smudges high on the forehead and long loose hair, along with a small mouth, very rounded cheeks, and a low-placed nose are all markers used to indicate Heian-era female beauty from Tosa's TALE OF GENJI illustrations to Noh Ko-omote masks to traditional Otafuku and Benten imagery. What's canny, and oh-so-true to the tenth grade experience, is that Tamaki takes this marked-as-beautiful face and places it in a context-- an almost entirely white Canadian girls' private high school-- that completely invalidates its beauty.
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Format: Paperback
Skim is a graphic novel that centers around the main character whose nickname is Skim. Skim is an overweight, Japanese-Canadian, gothic, Wiccan, and high school social outcast. However, none of these descriptions are actually truthgul. As the reader becomes familiar with Skim, he/she soon discovers that she is just another misunderstood high school student who is trying to find her niche will still retaining some of her identity. The plot begins to roll when the boyfriend of the most popular girl at school commits suicide and the other popular girls decide to create various vigils and clubs in honor of this boy that none of them actually knew. Skim sees through the popular girls' false sorrow and realizes that this boy's death is just an excuse for the popular girls to alienate others and draw attention to themselves. However, this death eventually created tension and forever changes Skim's relationship with her best friend. In hopes of finding help and guidance, Skim reaches out to her English teacher with whom she falls in love. Instead of finding solace in this relationship, she only becomes more confused about herself. Companionship and understanding comes in the most surprising of places: the girlfriend of the boy who committed suicide. Skim notices that the girl is actually suffering and yet her popular friends are doing nothing to come to her aid. An unspoken kinship is fostered between the two girls as they both struggle with trying to fit into their own skin.

The art in this graphic novel is exceptional. The detail is incredibly intricate and should be examined with as much interest as the text. Many of the drawings are not contained in boxes as other graphic novels and comics have used. Instead, pictures flow over the pages and blend into one another.
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Format: Paperback
I chose this from the list of GLBT YA books for my Literature for Young Adults class, partly because I've never really read a graphic novel, and partly to avoid yet ANOTHER modern YA in first-person present tense. I was very glad with this selection, though it's not such an obvious choice for a list of GLBT books. It seems more like a YA contemporary that just happens to include a component of questioning one's orientation.

Since Skim is in 10th grade in 1993, that makes her only a few years older than I am. Because of that, I was really able to relate to her and to understand a lot of the references. This is totally how YA contemporary should be done, made even better by the illustrations. I don't think the story would've pulled me in so quickly and held my interest the entire time if it had only been text. The first-person narration also works really well for this story, something I can't always say for a lot of other YA books coming out these days. Skim has such a unique, well-developed, very believably teenage voice. It also works in backstory very well, and has a number of very humorous touches, like some geeky would-be dates and the coven that turns out to be an AA meeting.

Over the course of the story, set in a private girls' school in Toronto, Skim deals with drifting apart from her best friend Lisa, dabbling in Wicca and Goth culture, questioning her sexual orientation when she gets a crush on an artsy English teacher, issues at home, and not fitting in at school. When a popular girl's ex-boyfriend, a football player who might've been gay, commits suicide, all the other popular girls start an anti-suicide club to draw even more attention to themselves. Skim sees right through all this and refuses to join the club, which makes her even more unpopular.
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