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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

How do you know if you're on the verge of a nervous breakdown? For seventeen-year-old Stacy Black, it all begins with the smashing of a window. After putting her fist through the glass, she checks into a mental hospital. Stacy hates it there but despite herself slowly realizes she has to face the reasons for her depression to stop from self-destructing. Based on the author's experiences, How I Made it to Eighteen is a frank portrait of what it's like to struggle with self-esteem, body image issues, drug addiction, and anxiety. How I Made It to Eighteen is a 2011 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.…

Overall Book Review:

Being a teenager is hard. It’s amazing so many teens survive, given all the chances they have to mess up, trip up, or give up. But how often do we really get a good look at how a teen lives? How often does someone write a book that tells not only of their tough phase of growing up, but is also transparent and honest? Not too often. That is why when I saw this book, I immediately requested it for purchase for the teen room at the library where I work. I also thought the fact that it is a graphic novel couldn’t hurt.

For anyone who had a tough adolescence, or knows someone who did, this book will be a wonderful magnifying glass, helping to pick through emotions of not only the person going through whatever it is they are going through, but also giving the perspective of some close friends who felt helpless and hopeless in the face of their friend’s tragedy. The drawings are a little rough around the edges (not too pretty), but just complete enough to keep the reader’s attention.

I know that when I was going through my darkest days, reading stories about others who had experienced similar things helped me to not feel so alone. This book is one of those books that can help a person heal, in a way. Some of the occurrences that the author writes about are crappy and unfortunate, but they are her reality. This book really opens a reader’s eyes to what troubles teens can and do go through.

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language: 5 religious exclamations; 5 derogatory names; 5 scatological words; 1 anatomical term; 8 F-Word derivatives.

Violence/Gore:  A character mentions their father is dead; a suicide attempt from pills is mentioned; cutting oneself is depicted, blood is shown streaming down a cartoon person’s arm; self-harm is referred to; a character is depicted to break a window in a violent act of rage.

Sex/Nudity:  A character claims to be a virgin; sex before marriage is mentioned to be OK in a character’s mind; cheating is mentioned; a character is referred to as “hot”; an older man is reported to have kissed a girl when she was too young to object; minors kiss; a character talks about how they were in a situation that could have turned into rape.

Mature Subject Matter:

Divorce, self-harm, cutting, depression, suicide.

Alcohol / Drug Use:

A bong is used, later mentioned to be broken; dealing drugs is mentioned; drug use among minors is mentioned; a minor admits to being an alcoholic.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

Books and reading have always been an important part of my life. When I was very young, my grandma was the library director at our local public library. Years later, after she had retired, I became a librarian at the same library and worked there for several years before taking a part-time job at a local coffee shop, which gives me more time to do what I love, to read and to review books! A few of my favorite authors are Aimee Bender, Diane Chamberlain, and Curtis Sittenfeld however, I will read almost any book I come across! In my spare time you can find me reading (of course), volunteering at a wildlife animal rehab, or hanging out with my two house rabbits.