Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Potential” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Potential (High School Comic Chronicles)

3.82  ·  Rating Details ·  1,523 Ratings  ·  118 Reviews

Paperback, 224 pages
Published August 15th 2008 by Touchstone (first published 2000)
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 Potential, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Potential

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Sep 17, 2010 Patricia rated it really liked it
This is by far my favorite volume of Ariel Schrag's autobiographical high school comic chronicles, which she wrote as a teenager, releasing each volume the year after the events it describes. While Definition, the sophomore year volume, is a light read that lacks substance, and Likewise, the senior year volume, becomes weighed down by its own literary pretensions, Potential manages to strike a satisfying balance between stylistic experimentation and narrative.

The bulk of the story deals with Ari
Okay, so I have some reservations about giving a book five stars when it contains a lot of fatphobia, butchphobia and coercive sex scenes. But it deals with all of that really honestly and bravely and I think it would be less realistic without it. It's an autobiographical comic written when the author/artist was actually 16-17 and I had some similar attitudes when I was that age. I did get a little bored, annoyed and frustrated with the last third or so where -- spoiler alert! -- the narrator-pr ...more
Jenny Devildoll
Nov 22, 2010 Jenny Devildoll rated it did not like it
Too one sided, possibly not enough time given to reflect on events before chronicling them. Also, I'd love to get some of Ariel's girlfriends' side of the story--it seems she portrays everyone she dates as mean or unreasonable, while she's always the victim.
Sep 13, 2007 Matt rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of Phoebe Gloeckner, Michelle Tea, Alison Bechdel, or good memior
Sometimes the best way to tell how much I've enjoyed a book is to examine the spine. A quick glance at my bookshelf reveals that my copy of Ariel Schrag's Potential is cracked in about twenty-three different places.

I'm a huge fan of this book. It may be because it's one of the first truly alternative comic books that did anything for me. It may be the fact that I knew Schrag put this book together while she was still in high school. It may be the way that it tackles GLBT issues without stumbling
Emilia P
Mar 04, 2010 Emilia P rated it liked it
Shelves: comic-books
Hm. Well of course my zeal for these books with expire just as I purchased the final two. Potential is about Schrag's junior year, where, honestly, I think her transition to straight-up-gay is a little oversimplified. "And then I broke up with my boyfriend and that was totally easy!" But then being gay is not as awesome as she expected it to be which I think was probably the best thing about this book -- defining your sexuality one way or another doesn't make life easier. Kids get sad and feel t ...more
Hannah Messler
Feb 01, 2013 Hannah Messler rated it it was amazing
Reading this, it's hard not to feel flabbergasted by the fact that it was created by a teenager. Potential is Ariel Schrag's memoir of her junior year in high school, and it's brilliant enough to make you pretty frukken antsy to get your paws on the follow-up material; it's also derfy and seventeen-y enough to make you be like meh I will probly read the earlier stuff but not right now.
She does these little dream sequences where the way she draws the expressions on people's faces makes you just w
Mar 20, 2009 A.K. rated it it was ok
The art pushed this down to 3 stars. It probably would have taken a year longer to finish had Schrag illustrated the entire comic as she did her dream sequences, and I suppose that the contrast of their detailed emotional reality with the more cartoonishly and cutely drawn images from her waking life could be a narrative device. But I liked the look of them best, and just wished it all looked that good.

The title of the comic itself is an operative word for Schrag as she somehow gets through her
Oct 27, 2008 Ruth rated it it was ok
This was my second birthday-present-to-myself comic. It's also of the queer coming of age genre, but it's autobigraphical and much more complicated. In the beginning I quickly figured out that the narrator went to some high school where it was really hip to be a lesbian which is cool, but then she just seemed to always be either getting drunk and hooking up (or trying to hook up) and frenetically studying biology and math and I just didn't get it. But I plugged through it and there are some huma ...more
Sep 26, 2007 Jessica rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: real life lesbians
I really do cherish this book, even after watching Schrag go on national television and admit that she made the whole thing up. Maybe I just feel bad for her after watching Oprah tear her a new one.... but honestly, what kind of state is the book industry in, that talented comic book writers feel they must pose as gay teenagers in order to get published??? Well, those revelations when Killer Films took her to court sure explained a lot about Schrag's mental state at the time. Sometimes the line ...more
Nov 16, 2010 Peacegal rated it it was ok
While this graphic novel will probably be cherished by gay teens coming to terms with their sexuality, I just couldn’t relate. And it’s just not because I’m not gay; it’s because the vast majority of the storyline centered on the protagonist’s high school relationships and teenage sexual awkwardness. Seeing as I didn’t even go out on a single date in high school, I just couldn’t get into this one.
Richard Van Camp
Nov 07, 2012 Richard Van Camp rated it it was amazing
I love this book. I think Ariel's honesty saves lives. Thank you, Ariel, for your bravery and courage in creating this gorgeous narrative. I've bought so many copies that I end up giving away to people searching for answers about their sexuality. I'm about to buy two more and they're already marked for friends I care so deeply about. I love it.
Nov 03, 2008 Tammy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2009
Ugh, high school. Drawn with conviction by a survivor. It's hard to imagine that Schrag completed each of these graphic novels the summer after the year each one depicts. They just keep getting better (and more painful). Well done, Ariel.
Dec 08, 2008 Alison rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic-novels
This is a really lovely graphic novel about high school. Ah, the drama.
Sep 13, 2016 Stef rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
I abandoned this early on. The constant hammer-over-the-head overuse of the word POTENTIAL came across as clumsy and repetitive instead of artful and drowned out the actual story.
Jul 02, 2017 Jae rated it really liked it
This was so raw in ways that were a little off putting but also amazing because that's what being a teenager is like and that's what you get when a teenager writes about their own teenage life.
Stewart Tame
Mar 29, 2013 Stewart Tame rated it really liked it
I have to say that I don't remember this much sturm und drang from my high school days. Of course I went to a much smaller high school, among other differences. I confess that I've been reading this series backwards. The first Ariel Schrag book I read was Likewise, which covers her senior year. Potential deals with the junior year. Of the two, I like Potential better. There seems to be more focus, more of a storyline, though that's really more to do with Ariel's life than any failing on her part ...more
Apr 19, 2009 Korynn rated it it was ok
Shelves: graphicnovels
"Potential" drags the reader back to high school, which this clever autobiographer notes all her experiences at Berkeley High and regurgitates them into cartoon format, and then, earning my great admiration proceeded to elect a theme of "Potential" that runs throughout the stories of her life, like Sesame Street's word of the day (or in this case, junior year). Painfully honest, the author apparently found herself in the typical identity struggle/crisis of the teen years which is drawn in detail ...more
Sep 13, 2009 Kit rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, comics
This is book two in Ariel Schrag's series of autobiographical graphic novel chronicling her high school years. Potential is about her junior year and tells the story of her coming out as a lesbian, her first time falling for a girl, and her parents' divorce. She attended Berkeley High School in the mid-90s and I am amazed at how different her high school experience was than mine at Evergreen in the early 00s. Berkeley is ages ahead of Vancouver and it shows strongly even though Schrag doesn't ov ...more
Jan 12, 2011 MariNaomi rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 24, 2010 Jim rated it liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
Potential is the third book in Arial Schrag's autobiographical comics written during her high school years. This book covers her 11th grade and was written after her junior year and based on notes she had taken during the time along with journal entries.

While her first two books, Awkward and Definition had some humor along with teen angst, this book leans more to the darker side of teen life. There are moments of deep anxiety, despair and self doubt bordering on pathos.

Yet, it is truly amazing
Levi Amichai
Found it on the library book cart at Pride (yay!!). Kind of disturbing, and sometimes I couldn't tell if it was intentional or not. There are very few black people (and no real black characters), and every time a black person appears in a panel they're yelling or angry or intimidating or outright scary---I'm pretty sure that wasn't intentional. Also some unexpected homophobia ('butches are icky and gross eww')---maybe it was being lampshaded? And weird consent stuff, which Schrag didn't directly ...more
Feb 28, 2010 Jodi rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010-read
When we last left off, Ariel Schrag had just finished tenth grade. As good as her freshmen and sophomore years were to read, junior year is even better.

The first thing I noticed about Potential the second book in Schrag’s high school chronicles, is that her drawing skills vastly improved from sophomore to junior year. Gone is the amateurish, cartoons and in their place are drawings with real depth and emotion. The art here is really clever, not only does she depict various moods altered by chemi
Jan 25, 2015 Rachel rated it liked it
Shelves: bio, graphic, queer
Hm. I liked this. It was a little slow going at parts. And when my girlfriend saw it, she accused me of reading porn. I grabbed this one off the graphic novel shelf while looking for The Encyclopedia of Early Earth, because it was a 92 and looked vaguely gay. Yup. It was that. But so is a lot in the intersection of memoir and graphic novel. I felt an understanding of Ariel at several points. This sequence, towards the end, struck me in particular: "She started trying to pull me up and I end alon ...more
Jul 24, 2011 Anne rated it it was ok
I love autobiographical comics so I had to read this. Library had the sequel but not prequel so here is where I started. Pictures -- at first, hard for me to distinguish who was who. Like real high school, many of the kids have kind of the same look. These are more "cartoonish" than most books like this (nothing as artsy as "Fun Home," e.g.), except for the dream sequences where (oddly enough) the people look more realistic. Story -- very engaging! Even though I don't have much in common wrt age ...more
Feb 18, 2009 Marissa rated it liked it
Shelves: lesbian-lit, comix
I think that this is a really good graphic novel considering how young Schrag was when she wrote it, although I don't know if it's quite as mind-blowing as some people say and I don't know what to think about the fact that they're making it into a movie. As comics in the confessional genre go, I think the story-telling is strong, her character is really likeable and sympathetic, and the emotions are honest. I like the drawing style, although it can border on a little too cute sometimes. It's int ...more
Feb 15, 2015 Hayley rated it it was amazing
Where the first two years of Ariel Schrag's high school years were filled with awkward hilarity and bubbling enthusiasm, her junior year also carries with it the emotional turmoil of family drama and her first love with a girl.

I can't praise Ariel loud enough for the bravery she displays here, at age 17, for depicting the highs and lows of teen life. When she's striving for maximum potential, I cheered along with her. During her saddest moments, it's powerfully moving.

It's difficult to talk abou
Apr 19, 2013 Meryl rated it it was ok
Two stars. Not one star, because the part about "losing her virginity", I guess the "real way" as she thought, was actually pretty funny to me. Pretty ignorant and shitty, but I mean she is in high school so whatever. But that's pretty much the only thing that saved this book from getting one star. I still consider it a waste of paper, though, because the story is awful and repetitive, not to mention the horrible artwork. I know she was young when she published this book, but it was so hard for ...more
Mar 11, 2009 Rachel rated it it was ok
Shelves: graphic-novels
Yet another graphic novel about high school. I swear is this the only period in people's lives they feel the need to write/draw about? Doesn't anything worth writing happen after the age of 18? Where are all the graphic novels about being 30 and married!

Anyway, this is a fine example of the many other graphic novels of it's kind. The only thing that makes it stand out is that it centers on a teenage girl discovering her sexuality which involves her being a lesbian. It was very real and honest a
3 1/2 to 4. I definitely enjoyed this, and found it to be a quick read, but it's slightly too confessional and graphic for my taste. I found myself having to hunch over all of the nudity & sex when I was reading it in public, so that nobody could spy on what I was reading, and I had mixed feelings about my kids opening it up while it was in the house, so I'm slightly relieved to be taking it back to the library today. I do think it's absolutely appropriate for high schoolers, and I'm no prud ...more
Feb 05, 2013 Kate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: graphic-novels
I really enjoyed this book. Ariel Schrag is insightful and funny and her brutal honesty is refreshing and heartbreaking. This book is certainly not *just* for lesbians, the themes are universal. If you've been to high school, they resonate and, if you haven't been to high school yet, the material probably isn't quite age-appropriate. The book feels very real and this keeps the content from feeling too preachy or precious. I will definitely be picking up more of Schrag's books in the near future! ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Invincible Summer: An Anthology
  • I Love Led Zeppelin
  • Lucky
  • Rent Girl
  • The Complete Hothead Paisan: Homicidal Lesbian Terrorist
  • Stuck Rubber Baby
  • The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For
  • A Child's Life: Other Stories
  • Funny Misshapen Body
  • Make Me a Woman
  • My Most Secret Desire
  • The Fart Party, Vol. 1
  • Jokes and the Unconscious: A Graphic Novel
  • Skim
  • Kiss and Tell: A Romantic Résumé, Ages 0 to 22
  • 32 Stories: The Complete Optic Nerve Mini-Comics
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.

More about Ariel Schrag...

Other Books in the Series

High School Comic Chronicles (3 books)
  • Awkward and Definition: The High School Comic Chronicles of Ariel Schrag
  • Likewise: The High School Comic Chronicles of Ariel Schrag (High School Chronicles of Ariel Schrag)

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »