Wednesday, August 17, 2011

YA Graphic Review: Skim by Mariko Tamaki

Skim by Mariko Tamaki
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Whenever I read a book that has graced a few banned lists, I always wonder why people don't trust young adults or worse yet, TEENS, to be intelligent and open-minded enough to ingest a story and take only the parts necessary to them. Contrary to belief, they are not as susceptible to peer pressure as most accuse them of being, and are actually more willing to step out on their own beliefs than most adults I know!

That being said, it is clear why Skim made the banned list. Teen Suicide, Student/Teacher impropriety, Wicca and homosexuality make it a prime target for rough attention. However, each and every one of those plot-lines is addressed in such a cavalier way that this book becomes all too important for young adults to read.


Skim is Kimberly Keiko Cameron, a teenage girl with a quick wit and silent observer attitude. She spends most of her time with her best friend Lisa as they work on becoming practicing Wiccans, dissing the popular lemming-like students at their high school, and drawing. She doesn't spend much time with her divorced parents because her mother is a worker bee, and her father is a tad too mushy for her taste these days. If not for Lisa, she would be a loner, which makes it all the more strange when she starts spending more and more time with her English teacher Ms. Archer.

Very soon into the story, Katie Mathews, one of the more popular girls' boyfriend kills himself. A few weeks later when Katie falls of her roof, breaking both arms, everyone believes it was to commit suicide also. The intense amount of pressure the school begins placing on life after those two events works in contrast to Skim as her feelings for Ms. Archer are heightened. As the school and community try to counsel the teens towards life and positivity, Skim realizes that a few are focusing in on her specifically because as a "goth" and a "witch", she's obviously a prime candidate for suicidal thoughts. A theory she openly scoffs at. Quite the contrary to what everyone apparently believes, Skim is actually experiencing her first love, not sadness. But then, at 16, its hard to tell the difference.

The pressure and questions about her own feelings towards Wicca, sexuality and what Katie Mathews must be thinking(she seems to be the only person in the book who truly wonders about this), are what make this book so relevant. Skim's ideas fluctuate and change based on what she learns and experiences, much like any other real teenager. Nothing is concrete, and her willingness to allow herself to change in the midst of her first real love and subsequent heartbreak are valuable lessons for anyone questioning their own beliefs and direction.

At the heart of this quick story, written in diary format, is a growing girl with a strength that the reader can see from the very beginning. Watching her realize those strengths are what make the book a gem.

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4 people wrote some stuff:

Sidne,the BCR said...

ok, this one scares me but i'm going on a library hunt for it. thanks for the review.

Charlotte said...

This sounds like a good one--I'll look out for it!

Mrs.Tiye said...

Hey Sidne! LOL Yeah, I have to admit I was hesitant for a while also based on a few plot comments from others, but I thought it was worth me trying it for myself. I'm glad I did because it was actually much milder than people had made it out to be.

Mrs.Tiye said...

Hey Charlotte! Stop by and let me know what you think of it, (I know you mostly do sci-fi on your blog).

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