Monday, July 7, 2014

Tina's Mouth: An Existential Comic Diary by Keshni Kashyap


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.

Tina's Mouth is definitely unique in various ways, but it also deals with everyday growing up issues like friends, boys, and figuring yourself out. Love definitely plays a big role throughout the book, but not only for Tina. It affects her brother and sister, as well as her ex-best friend Alex. Obviously there is a difference between love and crushing, but Tina does experience her first "love" in the book, though it certainly comes with a lot of moments for learning.

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

12 comments:

Medeia Sharif said...

I would love to read this. I like graphic novels, diary formats, and multicultural books.

The Bookish Manicurist said...

Yes, it's great to see more and more diversity re. the main character. And, this sounds like a really sweet read for MG readers and adults, too!

Mands @ The Bookish Manicurist

Melliane said...

It's intriguing and the format is interesting too, it's always nice to have something different like that.

Kindlemom said...

I love that this was told in diary format, I really don't think I have read another book like that other than the Diary of Anne Frank so it is nice to see it done here.

Zoe N. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Zoe N. said...

Hmm...a graphic novel told in diary format? I'm intrigued! :D Thanks so much for sharing Lauren!

~ Zoe @ The Infinite To-Read Shelf

Candace said...

This sounds really unique. I don't think it's for me but I can appreciate when an author tries something totally different and new.

Heidi@Rainy Day Ramblings said...

I always like diary format, and I think the graphic novel adds a whole other dimension to it. Very interesting.

Andrea Thompson said...

It is hard to find non-Caucasian characters in YA. Tina sounds like a good leading character. Glad you enjoyed!

kimbacaffeinate said...

The diary format is unique and I love the diversity. Thanks for sharing Lauren

Aylee said...

I'm a bit unsure how you could do a diary format for a graphic novel, but I like how unique that is. And yayy for diversity!!

Kate Midnight Book Girl said...

Yeah, I don't know much about Satre either, but this looks like a good graphic novel. And I agree that it's nice the main character comes from an Indian family, I like even more that they don't seem to be a stereotypical version of what a non-Indian might expect. Plus, this book is giving me a Daria vibe, which is always a good thing!