Tina's Mouth: An Existential Comic Diary by Keshni Kashyap and illustrated by Mari Araki
Review by Lauren
Source: library copy, but all opinions are my own
Official Summary: Tina M., sophomore, is a wry observer of the cliques and mores of Yarborough Academy, and of the foibles of her Southern California intellectual Indian family. She's on a first-name basis with Jean-Paul Sartre, the result of an English honors class assignment to keep an “existential diary.”
Keshni Kashyap’s compulsively readable graphic novel packs in existential high school drama—from Tina getting dumped by her smart-girl ally to a kiss on the mouth (Tina’s mouth, but not technically her first kiss) from a cute skateboarder, Neil Strumminger. And it memorably answers the pressing question: Can an English honors assignment be one fifteen-year-old girl’s path to enlightenment?
Review: This isn't a typical graphic novel. Instead, it's told through a diary format (where Tina writes to Jean-Paul Sartre for a class assignment), but all the conversations are set up like comics with word bubbles and the rest. I don't know a lot about Sartre, but that shouldn't stop anyone from fully enjoying this story.
Tina is from an Indian family but they aren't quite what people expect. For example, her crush, Neil, asks her about Buddhism and she makes things up to get him to keep talking to her, even though her family isn't actually Buddhist.
This is Tina's story, so any "lesson" or "revelation" comes from her and her alone. The book felt realistic for someone in high school and I think a lot of people could relate in some way. I also really appreciated that Tina was from an Indian family, because it's rare to find YA books with non-white, main characters.
I read this for the Graphic Novel Reading Challenge