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Little Fish: A Memoir from a Different Kind of Year
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Little Fish: A Memoir from a Different Kind of Year

3.53 of 5 stars 3.53  ·  rating details  ·  411 ratings  ·  130 reviews
Told through real-life journals, collages, lists, and drawings, this coming-of-age story illustrates the transformation of an 18-year-old girl from a small-town teenager into an independent city-dwelling college student. Written in an autobiographical style with beautiful artwork, Little Fish shows the challenges of being a young person facing the world on her own for the...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published September 3rd 2013 by Zest Books
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Once Upon a Road Trip by Angela N. BlountA Child Called "It" by Dave PelzerLittle Fish by Ramsey BeyerChasing Lincoln's Killer by James L. SwansonDo Hard Things by Alex  Harris
Teen/YA Non-fiction
3rd out of 20 books — 14 voters
Persepolis by Marjane SatrapiFun Home by Alison BechdelBlankets by Craig ThompsonMaus, I by Art SpiegelmanPersepolis 2 by Marjane Satrapi
Graphic Novel Memoirs
14th out of 43 books — 25 voters

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Community Reviews

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For the life of me, I can't figure out how Little Fish got published. Not that Ramsey Beyer's graphic novel/list compendium of her college experience is particularly offensive. On the contrary, it's completely unoffensive, blandly chronicling none-too-original freshmen events that surely readers have seen covered elsewhere - on the first two seasons of Felicity, for instance.

I have to assume, then, that the "hook" is in the format, a zine/blog mix that strikes me as trying too hard to achieve f...more
Different. Beyer has brought together her collection of lists and old Livejournal entries, bridging the gaps with comic book pages, to tell the story of her first year in college. Which is, to be honest, not terribly dramatic. But she does a good job of capturing the anxiety that a small town kid would feel when moving to a big city far from home. The many, many lists, some of which aren't terribly relevant to the story, could try anyone's patience, and there's quite a bit of repetition. But I d...more
I loved this book so much. For me, it really captured the feeling of transitioning from high school to college, and I appreciated how open she was in including *real* pieces of her journal/lists/etc. I hope there is a sequel.

I've seen other reviewers on here say that "nothing really happens"... but I don't think the book was supposed to be about some huge event. To me, the purpose was to capture a certain period in her life, and I feel like she did this beautifully.
Recently I complimented a picture book author by saying that thanks to her, I desire to read more picture books. Now I'm going to extend a similar compliment to Ramsey Beyer. Thanks to her college memoir, Little Fish, I wish to read more graphic novels. If you read Beyer's Behind the Scenes of Little Fish, you'll discover that as part of planning for her memoir, Beyer outlined the plot points that she wanted to hit, from leaving best friends to making new ones, to navigating a new city, to meeti...more
Sara Grochowski
There were two things about Ramsey Beyer's memoir, Little Fish: A Memoir From a Different Kind of Year, that immediately convinced me I needed to read it:

1. Ramsey is from the small town of Paw, Paw, Michigan, which is very close to where I attended university.. I left my small northern, Michigan town to move to Kalamazoo, which is much bigger than where I grew up, and I, like Ramsey, felt like a little fish in a new, big pond.

2. Little Fish is a memoir told in various formats, including illust...more
Little Fish is told in a series of lists and comics. In the spirit of the book, I decided to share my thoughts in a list.

a memoir told in lists which I liked because: I like lists, made for a quick read
enjoyed the graphics - made reading a visual experience
expresses the anticipation and expectation of going away to college - which anyone getting to go to college or anyone who has been to college can relate to
shares the excitement and anxiety of making new friends in a new place
small town gi...more
Nov 30, 2013 Ed added it
Beyer, R. (2013). Little fish: A memoir from a different kind of year. San Francisco, CA: Zest Books. 273 pp. (Unpaginated). ISBN: 978-1-936976-18-8. (Hardcover); $15.99.

Paw Paw, Michigan does not find its way into teen literature. I say this with conviction. Many readers may suspect that Paw Paw is a made up name. I’ve been there! Eaten at a very fine restaurant there. Consequently, finding Little Fish and discovering that Ramsey hails from Paw Paw attracted my attention. What has me reviewing...more
Book Whales
Originally posted @ Book Whales

The book is brilliant! I find it interesting. The illustrations, lists and collages gave the book some depth in Ramsey’s Little Fish experience. The book is filled with vibrant drawings. And all the visual aspect of the book is fun to look through.


As I read Ramsey’s journal about dating and her own ‘reality’ moment— it transported me back to my college days. I fully remember my first day of school; it was awkward, hectic and confusing. I don’t know what...more
Jul 26, 2013 Julie rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Julie by: NetGalley
I haven't read a graphic novel/ comic book for a very long time but Little Fish is something quite different. For one its an autobiography. Ramsey Beyer chronicles her first year of college in Baltimore, living far away from her small hometown in Michigan. It's a young woman's journey into discovering who she is and how big the world is outside of her safe environment, crafted by way of drawings and artful notes. Initially, it looks very simple almost plain even in the storytelling however as yo...more
Emilia P
I wanted to like this!It's a girl who makes list and draws comics! And she's from the semi-rural midwest! We have so much in common! Argh!
But in her move to go to art school in Baltimore (so edgy!) and her wavering about the boy she likes, and all that good stuff, she somehow manages to never reveal any vulnerability, brokenness, or even really any mean or angry or relatably sad thoughts -- it felt like there was a wall between her and the reader. Which, argh, made it kind of a chore. Some revie...more
Ramsey was a small-town girl when she decided to move to the city to go to art school. She was relatively sheltered and naive, her family culture was midwestern, liberal and educated, and she naturally gravitated to an arts career and the punk subculture. This is the story of her first year at art school in Baltimore.

The book recounts the summer of 2003 through the summer of 2004, and includes short sequential-art anecdotes, lists of things ("things that scare me," "top 10 worst sounds," "things...more
I feel like there have been a LOT of coming of age teen memoir comics lately, or maybe I've just read a lot of them. This one is...OK. The art is not mind-blowing, but the characters are rendered well and I can imagine what they look like (or at least how they dress). It reads as mostly a collection of the author's LiveJournal and zines, which is what in fact it is. Charming but very limited and very, very young.

Reminds me a lot of my freshman year of college, actually. The main character start...more
I have never opened a graphic novel and I have never felt any inclination to do so. I shelved this book at work and for some reason went back and opened it. It was what I saw that made me smile, that made me check out the book and read it in two sittings, in one night.

When I opened the book, the format reminded me of a zine, which is a latest obsession of mine. Scrapbook pages and typewriter written words and sweet cartoons and jottings. I loved it.

The whole book is amazing. The thing you have...more
This graphic novel takes real journals, collages, lists and drawings to show the author’s transitional first year of college. Ramsey grew up in very small Paw Paw, Michigan. She was an artist from a young age and worked very hard at it, earning a spot in one of the top art schools in the country. This meant moving to Baltimore and making new friends for the first time since she was a young child. It also meant that she would no longer be the best artist around, she would be challenged as an arti...more
Cindy Hudson
Accustomed to life in a small town in Wisconsin where everyone knows each other, Ramsey is excited that she has the opportunity to venture out on her own after she graduates from high school. Shy and pig-tailed, she nonetheless enters college life at an art school in Baltimore with high hopes and dreams of adventure. Little Fish is her memoir of her first year away from home.

The title reflects Ramsey’s feelings that she has become a little fish in a big pond, and at first she is definitely out o...more
This book is one of a kind for me. I’ve never before read a book that had this combination of lists, drawings, collages, etc. . It was a lot of fun at the start, but once the newness had wore off I sometimes felt it lacked in the dialogue department. Perhaps I’m being picky, or I’m just not used to reading comics, but for me there just wasn’t enough in the dialogues. They just left me wanting more details, more pages, more depth.

I find this to be a very hard book to review, because I’m just not...more
Amy Marbach
I was excited to read this book when I first saw it. It sounded like a coming of age story, about that somewhat scary but exciting time when a child leaves the comfort of a small town life for big city college life. I thought that the fact that it was in graphic novel format might make it more exciting or relate-able but I was wrong.

I found the graphic novel format to be fine- except for all the lists. I found that most of the lists did NOTHING to move the story along and towards the last third...more
Andy Shuping
ARC provided by NetGalley

Ramsey Beyer is 18 years old and about to leave her small town life to become an independent big city college freshman. And she wants to share her story. In Little Fish, Ramsey share's with her us her first hand thoughts of tackling the new challenges that face her in the big city and growing up away from the friends and family she's known all of her life. Told through Ramsey's journals, collages, lists, and drawings she shares with he her transformation in the time befo...more
This surprisingly sweet autobiographical, graphic novel follows a young woman through her first year of collage at an art school in Baltimore, MD. The pleasant but not overly compelling cover doesn't do justice to the book, I think. I doubt I would have pulled this one off the shelf had a friend not given it do me. Within are lists, journal entries culled from the author's Livejournal account (remember Livejournal?!), and zine excerpts.

The multimodal art intrigued me, as did Ramsey's thoughtful...more
This summer was the perfect time to read Little Fish, a book that reminded me of my own college experiences. My little sister is now embarking on her own adventure in college, and I'm excited that we will only be 30 minutes away instead of 90 minutes. Change is the name of this school year for me as well, as my school implements new standards, we adopt new technology and I try out many new things. Enough about me for now, back to the book.

I love that Ramsey is a list maker, as this is one of my...more
So glad my public teen librarian recommended this one to me. As a non-fiction graphic novel w/ multiple writing styles I can think of several students and a couple teachers who would find this appealing.

I will be recommending this to my fellow Gateway committee members. My biggest concern is that the memoir covers the author's freshman yr in college. Will our freshman/sophomore readers relate enough to consider it a favorite of the yr?
Jessica Lewis
This is a lovely graphic memoir that's perfect for anybody who's left a small town or city for a bigger one to go to university. Though she describes herself as someone who shuns feelings, it's clear what Ramsey was feeling at that time: loneliness from leaving her familiar group of friends and comfort bubble, confusion when falling for her friend, excitement for her new group of friends and life and then loneliness again when everyone starts to fall into their own ways. It's a familiar tale, an...more
The only reason this isn't getting one star is because the artwork is decent. The format(s) seemed a bit redundant. The content... well, it's always hard when you're reading a memoir. I try to evaluate the book separately from my feelings about the author. This proved difficult.

Ramsey is probably a really nice girl. But reading this memoir was like reading my diary from when I was 12. So superficial. So juvenile. Such silly lists. God, the lists.

I really disliked the author by the end. And I fee...more
Bonnie Irwin
I am becoming a fan of graphic novels, or in this case a memoir. An excellent read for students heading off to college or those who want to relive those days of insecurities, adventures, making new friends, and having new experiences. Beyer's experience is not uncommon, but the way she presents it is truly effective. I feel like I know her, at least her 18-year-old self. The combination of comics, journals, and reflections transports readers from Beyer's small town in Michigan to her art school...more
Ramsey Beyer grew up in small town Michigan, dreaming of going to art school in a big city. Although she loved growing up in a rural area, she longed for the diversity and challenge of an urban life. So when it came time to apply to schools she looked for art schools in her favorite big cities, eventually settling on a well-respected institution in Baltimore.
With her freshman year of art school and a move to a big city looming ahead, Ramsey began to worry that she would miss her rural life. Betw...more
Katie Champion
When I first read that I would have to read a graphic novel I was a little hesitant. I have never been a big fan of graphic novels, but Little Fish did change my perspective on graphic novels. There were still some parts of the novel that I still didn't like, but for the most part I really liked it!

I like the meaning behind the novel because I could relate to what Ramsey was going through at the time. Also I liked how you got to see both sides of her life. She kind of lived two lives, one in her...more
Nina W.
Little Fish is an interesting and honest memoir about the author, Ramsey Beyer, leaving her small town to go to college in the city. When she leaves home to attend a Baltimore art university Ramsey meets new people and challenges she had never had to face before. The story is shown through comics, lists, and journal entries. This unusual format makes the book very fun to read, and adds more interest. The author has also added small details from her memory and used old journal entries to write th...more
Doubt. Wistfulness. Growing consciousness. Growing confidence. Homesickness while at school, schoolsickness while at home. Actively trying to grow and carefully examining one's growth. Meeting people your age with convictions. Not having convictions yet. Deciding who you are and what you like. In a skillfully put-together book that feels effortlessly put-together (and includes many lists and blurbs from the zine she made when she was first beginning art school), Ramsey Beyer evokes the big weird...more
Little Fish is an autobiographical memoir of the author's freshman year at college. After growing up rather sheltered in a very small town in Michigan, Ramsey ventures all the way to the big city of Baltimore to attend art school. After being a good-sized fish in a little pond, she now likens herself to a little fish in a big pond. The book is in graphic novel format, with some zine style elements. The author also includes excerpts from her actual journal from that year.

I really liked Little Fis...more
There is no doubt that Ramsey Beyer should be commended for her contribution to indie comics. Her book Year One was a fantastic testament of what indie comics are capable of doing, how our desires to be creative shouldn't be limited by artistic ability, grand epic storytelling, or publishing recognition. What matters is our desire to express ourselves, and the outcome can be wonderful and greater than the sum of its parts, and will find an audience.

Which begs the question, what is Little Fish's...more
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Ramsey Beyer grew up on a farm in Michigan before escaping to city life in Baltimore, MD, where she received a BFA in experimental animation. She currently lives in Philadelphia, PA and keeps her hands busy with all sorts of projects, spending her time gardening, riding her bike all over Philly, taking Rover for long walks, and working on comics in coffee shops. She has been making zines since 200...more
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