Tasha's Reviews > How I Made It to Eighteen: A Mostly True Story

How I Made It to Eighteen by Tracy  White
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's review
May 07, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: teen, graphic-novels
Read in August, 2010

Based on the author’s experiences, this book takes a straight-on look at depression and self-destruction. Seventeen-year-old Stacy Black checked herself into a mental hospital to help deal with her anger and depression. She had just put her fist through a glass window. Stacy hated the hospital but knew that she had to be there to survive, so she stayed. As she spent time there, she developed new friends who helped her in her recovery and in being honest with herself. Told in graphic novel format that is more like a journal than manga, this book is honest, blunt and intelligent. Teen readers will easily see themselves in Stacy whether they are struggling with similar issues or not.

This book appears to be a regular novel until you open it and see all of the illustrations. Done in line drawings, the illustrations are quirky and have the unedited feel of a real journal. Readers get to know Stacy as well as her friends both in the hospital and from outside. This perspective shift, done at the end of each chapter is a welcome view of how outsiders view a teen who enters a hospital. While they express confusion and concern, all of them realize that it was a necessary step. It is a brilliant and subtle way to tell teens that they will not be vilified if they get the help they need.

Though heavily illustrated, White’s writing is also a large part of the story. Stacy is a sarcastic and caustic character. Readers will realize immediately that she is putting on a front, but it takes time for readers and Stacy to acknowledge what exactly has brought her to the hospital and to this place in her life. The slow unveiling of the basis of her problems mirrors the steps in her counseling. This makes the entire book feel organic and honest.

A book that teens will enjoy and relate to, this graphic novel will appeal to a much broader audience than graphic novel readers. Appropriate for ages 14-17.

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