Awkward and Definition: The High School Comic Chronicles of Ariel Schrag
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Awkward and Definition: The High School Comic Chronicles of Ariel Schrag (High School Comic Chronicles)

by
3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  579 ratings  ·  53 reviews
Ariel Schrag captures the American high school experience in all its awkward, questioning glory in Awkward and Definition, the first of three amazingly honest autobiographical graphic novels about her teenage years.

During the summer following each year at Berkeley High School in California, Ariel wrote a comic book about her experiences, which she would then photocopy an...more
Paperback, 144 pages
Published April 1st 2008 by Touchstone (first published 1997)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Awkward and Definition, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Awkward and Definition

Fun Home by Alison BechdelThe Essential Dykes to Watch Out For by Alison BechdelAre You My Mother? by Alison BechdelLe bleu est une couleur chaude by Julie MarohSkim by Mariko Tamaki
Best Lesbian Graphic Novels
11th out of 80 books — 74 voters
Persepolis by Marjane SatrapiMaus, I by Art SpiegelmanFun Home by Alison BechdelStitches by David SmallEpileptic by David B.
best memoir graphic novels
26th out of 101 books — 185 voters


More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,297)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Jim
Ariel Schrag wrote diary comics of her experiences during high school. The first two books are combined in this volume. Awkward is when she was in 9th grade and Definition when she was in 10th grade.

I had heard of Ariel and her work previously. I was inspired to read this book, when Ariel appeared in a Gabrielle Bell comic on Gabrielle's blog.

I have to say I was quite impressed with Ariel's comics, especially for such a young person. Her writing is clear and engaging. Her drawings are fun and e...more
Bren
Comes a time when authoring a completely objective book review becomes all-but-impossible. Awkward and Definition came to me as a gift to myself; having picked up Ariel Schrag's Likewise recently (but not yet having read it), my breath caught in my throat when I spotted this collection of her earlier work - work which I had not previously known to exist until I saw it lying in the wrong place at a local bookstore. So then, why does writing an honest, unbiased review of this particular book becom...more
Meave
Apr 30, 2009 Meave rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Meave by: Bitch magazine
Spectacular. I can't believe she wrote so honestly about her life in her comic and then distributed copies of it to her classmates. That is bold. I'm also supremely jealous of her parents, all letting her stay out late and go to shows at 14 and 15. My parents got stricter and stricter and it so frustrated me all the time. I imagine one would have a lot more time to channel one's creativity into projects like an autobiographical comic book if one were not spending most of one's time fighting with...more
Emilia P
ARIEL SCHRAG.
So I'd already read Definition, checked this out mostly for Awkward and was like - I won't read Definition again, will I? But then, I just couldn't stop. Schrag captures perfectly how wonderful and awful and adventurous and joyful high school is. How meaningful and messy friendships can be. How music runs your life. How even when nothing much happens, so much is happening. Awkward leads into Definition so well, I'm going to be forced to purchase her 11th and 12th grade years.

Also, h...more
Kirsten Ashley
If you're a post-punk 90's-early 2000's era kid like I was you're going to gravitate with this graphic novel. Especially if you're a feminist with bisexual tendencies. The band and comic dropping throughout is an added bonus! (Jhonen Vasquez, Hole,L7, Marilyn Manson, NIN, No Doubt, Bush.)
Ariel Schragg has the balls to tell the truth about her young teenage life with brutal,unflattering honesty. Not many people can write in such a lighthearted way about their teenage years and failed threesomes...more
Amar Pai
Man I did not enjoy this at all. It's basically the diary of a 15 year old girl going to high school in Berkeley, CA. Perhaps if you've been a 15 year old girl or you went to high school in Berkeley, CA, this might be more appealing. But to me it came off as utterly banal. She's into L7, she crushes out on boys, she goes to gym class. There's nothing revelatory or particularly insightful-- it reads like what it is, a teenage diary. (Think "teenage girl squad" from Homestarrunner -- "I have a cru...more
Eli
Ariel Schrag may have had more booze, weed, and sexual encounters by age 16 than I did by the end of college, but not much actually *happens* in these books. This picturesque picaresque is literally "High School Girl's Illustrated Diary, good parts version", and there's precious little by way of through line. But Schrag tells even the most debauched tale with such charming unselfconsciousness (the benefit of being a high schooler writing about high school, rather than an adult looking back on it...more
Jodi
I approached Ariel Schrag’s Awkward and Definition with a little bit of trepidation. Earlier this year I made the proclamation that I was going to read one graphic novel a week, and since I’m an equally-opportunity reader I went in search of female authors. Since, I’ve already read Persepolis and Fun Home I had to do a little digging. It seems that whenever people mention female graphic novelists, those are the two that get mentioned the most.

In my research I stumbled upon Ariel Schrag’s high sc...more
christa
Nothing amps the saturation levels of my vanilla teen years like a coming-of-age collection of comics by someone similarly aged who knew what strawberry bidis were as a ninth grader. Me, age 37, Googling. A: Something to smoke.

Ariel Schrag’s collection “Awkward and Definition” is the story of her ninth and tenth grade years at Berkeley High School in California. Themes include music, her crushes -- both male and female, a rotating cast of friends and makeout partners and the sort of dramatics t...more
Alannah
Apr 15, 2008 Alannah rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: biographical/indie comics fans
I've always liked what I've seen from Ariel Schrag, but I had a hard time tracking down back issues of her works. Thankfully they've finally collected Awkward & Definition, and Potential. This collection covers her early high school years and is just an honest look into what being a teenage girl is like at that age. Ariel is a hardcore music fan and has several serious crushes/obsessions, and I could definitely relate to that. Her relationship trials and struggles with school definitely brou...more
Michael
although Schrag's command of the line does not approach the Superflat perfection of Tomine, and her total quantity of story may not yet reach Watterson or Johnston, this rising young star somehow manages to hit the sweet-spot of high academic high school, girl-on-girl love self-discovery teenage angst, advanced college-level biology, No Doubt-before-they-were-famous, and SF Bay area ennui that somehow is the perfect portrait of smart kids circa 1999 in an upper-middle class suburb.

this is a work...more
Virginia Lee
I find these books particularly interesting for a few reasons. I also kept a diary throughout middle- and high-school, though I never drew comics, so I can relate to Ariel's need to maintain records. Her obsessions with people and music and everything are so painfully reminiscent of the teenage years of myself and my friends. What I find interesting in a kind of outside-in way is all of the casual alcohol and drug use. I didn't do any of that in high school, so it's almost like reading the diary...more
Jessica
I'm too old for this graphic novel, and my TBR pile is too big for me to waste anymore time on it.

The font is small, and the story is just not that interesting.
Chris
Meh. I wasn't a fan of HS, I wasn't like this girl in HS at all, I simply don't relate. There are redeeming qualities such as being set in Berkeley and the greater SF Bay Area (my transplanted home for now and for many years) which add to the fun of 'oh hey! I know that place!' Also, being written while IN high school definitely allows the reader to see the author/illustrator grow up both in terms of the story/experiences and the quality of art. It's a definite read for the tween librarian, just...more
Ruth
These 2 graphic novels are the story of the author's first 2 years in high school. In them she goes to one rock concert or another, gets stoned at one person or another's house, has crushes on indie rock boys and goth girls and Juliette Lewis, and other such things. Though I find most of the stories a little boring, I really think her drawings are cute. They keep me coming back. And she's still young- I feel like when her authorial voice matures she'll be my favorite autobiographical graphic nov...more
Eric
I keep swearing off graphic novels, and then finding something that piques my interest. This series chronicles the author's four years of high school, and evokes nicely some of the angst and confusion and general cluelessness of teenage life. A pretty precocious work. My one question, is where were the parents when all this was happening to their daughter. They are invariably depicted in argyle and with vacant smiles, and as utterly clueless and disconnected.
Nancy
May 30, 2008 Nancy added it
I've only read a couple of graphic novels- there have been so few by women, but after reading these books, I'm going to pay a lot more attention to them. These are the memoirs of a high school student- she wrote them during the summers after each school year. She's really talented as a story-teller, making the typical ups and downs and stresses of a Berkeley High kid into a page-turner . I read it in two sittings.
Nicole
Though the author and I are about the same age, her high school experience seems almost entirely foreign, but truly fascinating. I find the evolution of her illustration and writing interesting as well. It's rare to get such an honest snapshot of adolescence in progress. I've heard this is going to be turned into a live action film in the near future, I'll be curious to see what Hollywood does with this story.
Tyler
I think this was her first book (its been a while since I read these). Ariel Schrag wrote and drew a comic book every year in high school. It was completely autobiographical, just talking about things that were happening to her. The first couple of books, I quite liked - she is very honest and open. A little too open sometimes (you feel like she's whining, which she is), but overall a great read.
Stefanie Quashnick
Where was this book when I was in high school, despite the fact that Ariel is older than I am? 10 years later, reading about how awkward it was for a queer punk girl going through high school still amuses me. Most notable is the visible progression in her drawings, but Ariel's raw narrative also shows readers how carving out our own unique niches allows definition: glimmer of hope
Matt Piechocinski
Given that Schrag did this in highschool, it's not bad, but not great either. Her art gets better as the story progresses, so I'm interested to see what the other volumes are like. But with that said, it's the musings of a teenage girl, so it gets a little much sometimes. It did cause me to check out a lot of riot girl type bands, though.
HeavyReader
Aug 18, 2008 HeavyReader rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: teenagers
I wasn't thrilled with this comic, but I really dig the fact that it was written and drawn by a young woman in high school in the 90s. I can appreciate her hard work and effort, even though I was not stunned by the fabulousness of the writing.

Also, the repetitive use of the word "Definition" in the second collection was really annoying.
Amy
I would give Awkward 4 stars and Definition 2, but since they're combined I averaged it. Definition would've been as good as Awkward, except for Schrag's annoying insistence on shoving the word "definition" into every page. Still, both were pretty fun and I'm looking forward to reading about her final two years of high school.
Jackson Nieuwland
Started slow/took me awhile to get into it. The style is very busy, a bit too busy for my taste. The frames are irregularly sized and spaced, in a way that seems not calculated but freestyled. It seems like Ariel became a more skilled artist over the course of the book. I am looking forward to reading Potential
Alison
An autobiographical graphic-novel account of the author's first 2 years in high school, written around that time. It has a revolving-door cast of characters, is very, very honest (to a Too Much Information extent), and is chock-full of references to mid-90's teen culture. Quite fun to read.
Betsy
As my co-worker Shelley says, "being young and gay in Berkeley in the 90s seems like it was much more fun than my high school experience". So far I feel like I'm re-reading my journals (and cringing), but I'm getting a bigger kick out of watching the comic style develop.
Sarah
Cool graphic novel about Ariel's 9th and 10th grade years. Fun and quick to read. Her depictions of early experimentation with sexuality and substances were spot on, and she was a cool kid. Loved her obsessions with L7 and Juliette Lewis.
Beth
Good. It was interesting to compare and contrast my first year in high school to Ariel's, which were 8 years apart. I look forward to reading about the rest of her high school experience, in Potential and Likewise.
Melody
Feb 13, 2009 Melody rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: PAG Maudies
Recommended to Melody by: Wendy
Splendid graphic novels covering Schrag's freshman & sophomore years in high school. Mindblowingly well-done. The drawings are wonderful, the dialogue rings achingly true, and the cast of characters is great fun indeed.
Nisi
I like her and I should like this. The whole series is just too choppy- too many characters, too many unfinished storylines. But I like its attitude. Maybe I just envy her high school experience?
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 43 44 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Tangles : a story about Alzheimer's, my mother, and me
  • I Love Led Zeppelin
  • Lucky
  • Kiss and Tell: A Romantic Résumé, Ages 0 to 22
  • The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For
  • Shadoweyes, Volume One (Shadoweyes, #1)
  • Funny Misshapen Body
  • Drinking at the Movies
  • Rent Girl
  • My Most Secret Desire
  • Hothead Paisan: Homicidal Lesbian Terrorist
  • Invincible Summer: An Anthology
  • Dar: A Super Girly Top Secret Comic Diary, Volume One
  • A Mess of Everything
  • Calling Dr. Laura: A Graphic Memoir
  • Stuck Rubber Baby
  • Special Exits
  • Vietnamerica: A Family's Journey
222245
Ariel Schrag was born in Berkeley, California in 1979. Her debut novel, ADAM, was published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in June 2014.

She is the author of the graphic memoirs Awkward, Definition, Potential, and Likewise (Simon & Schuster), which chronicle her four years at Berkeley High School. Potential was nominated for an Eisner Award and Likewise was nominated for a Lambda Literary Award.

P...more
More about Ariel Schrag...
Potential Stuck in the Middle: 17 Comics from an Unpleasant Age Adam Likewise: The High School Comic Chronicles of Ariel Schrag Definition

Share This Book