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The Diary of a Teenage Girl: An Account in Words and Pictures

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  4,143 ratings  ·  491 reviews
"I don't remember being born. I was a very ugly child. My appearance has not improved so I guess it was a lucky break when he was attracted by my youthfulness." So begins the wrenching diary of Minnie Goetze, a fifteen-year-old girl longing for love and acceptance and struggling with her own precocious sexuality. Minnie hates school and she wants to be an artist, or maybe ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published November 14th 2002 by Frog Books (first published 2002)
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Lily Gonzalez This book is so real and so raw and genuine, that some will be offended or uncomfortable reading this but that's also the beauty of it. This book is w…moreThis book is so real and so raw and genuine, that some will be offended or uncomfortable reading this but that's also the beauty of it. This book is worth the read. Trust me. (less)

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This book is a mildly fictionalized version of Gloeckner's real life. I'm just going to spell out what happens here, because trying to pair what happens with my emotion might lead to vomiting and bloodshed. This is how it goes:

- Monroe (
Elle (ellexamines)
In a word: there is a line between acknowledging trauma and reveling in it, and I think this book crosses that line over and over again.

I have nothing but respect for the writing style and illustration style of the book — each are clever and story-serving in their own ways. Indeed, this is a book written primarily with the intent of shocking the audience, challenging the audience. This is good. It is good to shock and challenge your audience. But this cannot hold up a book on its own. Narratives
Jan 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is so different from your average growing-up story, so startling, so true - and also so painful to watch bad choices on top of bad choices driven by the need to be loved - that I'm giving it five stars even though I couldn't read every word of it. It was like watching a slow motion train wreck; sometimes I had to turn my head. The graphics are simply amazing in their skill and their honesty. It takes place in San Francisco in the 1970's and it's dead-on - I was there. I feel like I've spent ...more
Aishu Rehman
Aug 30, 2018 rated it it was ok
I don't hold it against the author really, but folks need to know that the content is rather disturbing. I gave the rating a two because I can't really enjoy the writer's abilities as much as I could without all of the wincing and wondering why. Gah. You've been warned. ...more
Katy Johnson
May 10, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who are open minded and not prone to outrage
Highly disturbing, shocking, and unapologetic. The climax to an adolescent literature class I took, this graphic novel made me sick to my stomach at times for its honesty, and while it is nowhere near the story of my adolescence, it is the story of many girls'. Our professor left us with the question, "Would you let your child read this book?" and I was surprised with myself that I couldn't find an answer. ...more
Jun 09, 2015 rated it did not like it
The foreword of this book noted that the author was asked if this was her story, since excerpts came from her diary. Her answer was, "It's about all girls. It's not my story. It's our story." Um, I beg to differ. This is NOT a universal story or how most teenagers grow up. It's certainly not my story - and of no teenager I know, thank God. Maybe I'm a prude (I don't think so) or maybe it's my Catholic upbringing, but I don't know a single teenager that ever talked or acted like Minnie. I was exp ...more
Feb 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: tormented teens
Recommended to Stephanie by: Beth
I finally got to read this book, thanks to Beth's generous loan. I'm so glad I read this. Phoebe Gloeckner's tale of a 15 year old girl growing up in San Francisco brought back a lot of memories of my own teen years, good and bad. I especially enjoy how the author doesn't moralize about the protagonist's situation. It's simply presented in stark terms, just as the character would have experienced life.

In many ways, Minnie doesn't have the capacity to say, "Whoa! This situation is really fucked
May 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is not the type of book I usually read.

A book about an angsty teenager that basically is a picture book? That's usually not something I would go for. But for some reason I did read it. And I really enjoyed it. It's one of the few graphic novels I've ever read and liked having pictures in the book more than I thought I would.

Minnie is a 15 year old growing up in San Francisco in the '70s. I want to mention before I even talk about the substance of the story, that I grew up in San Francisco.
Dec 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Holy shit, what a book! Not a young adult novel in the traditional sense but a really complex, densely textured coming of age novel that explores some seriously complicated dynamics between kids and adults. Also a really sympathetic look at promiscuity and the ways in which it might begin as kind of a pathology in very young girls but it is by no means any kind of life sentence. I've always been frustrated by the ways in which girls' books are already at a disadvantage because the male gaze is t ...more
Jill Collins
Aug 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-books
I could never enjoy Lolita and I always thought it was because I was incapable of getting beyond the emotional impact of her abuse to see the greater conceptual value of the novel, but here I find a book I voraciously consume despite it being devastating as detailed account of sexual abuse and parental neglect. It occurred to me my problem with Lolita is not the abuse she suffers, but that her abuse seems to be used solely as a means to make her abuser an interesting character worthy of explorat ...more
Nov 01, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: honestly--teenage girls
so, i guess this is the autobiographical account of the author's troubled teendom in the 70s, the child of a divorced mom who seems to be dating a series of pretty questionable dudes. there's plenty of sex, drugs, & rock & roll, pretty much all of which skeeved me out to the max. not to wreck it, but the protag at some point bones her mom's boyfriend. does it gets any grosser than that? i mean, it's consensual & all (as consensual as it can be between a teenage girl & her mom's 70s-style skeeve ...more
Feb 22, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: didn-t-finish
Quitting after 120 pages, maybe halfway through. Just an unfun, tedious, sometimes revolting read.

Minnie is an unhappy teenager (well that's original) growing up in 70s San Francisco. She has tons of creepy sex with her mother's boyfriend, and a rich senior from school, and a psychotic psych-ward denizen. And the rich senior's best friend, I think. I kind of lost track. She fills her diary with angsty, melodramatic ruminations on boys and sex and loneliness and more sex and sad poems and sad dra
Wow. This book is pretty intense. Kind of like a more artsy and less secretly-produced-by-the-catholic-church Go Ask Alice only replete with really cool illustrations and full-scale narrative lapses into comic panels. The whole book is written as though it was the diary of a troubled, drug-addled, sexually promiscuous teenage girl, only the situation is complex - she is full of teen angst, but she is also talented, bright and sympathetic. She has a secret relationship with her mother's boyfriend ...more
Mar 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I highly recommend reading this difficult story toward the end goal of eliminating child abuse and neglect, not to mention other evils in our modern American culture. (I.e. illegal drugs) Evil things can happen to our kids as they grow into adults. We should be supportive and involved in their lives. We should provide as safe an environment as we can, and tell our kids and adolescents we love them. We should make time to listen to them as they struggle. Indeed it can be a tough thing to grow up. ...more
Art is not supposed to make you comfortable, which is what I kept telling myself while reading this book. It was excruciating to read at times, but as an artistic achievement it is really impressive, and I appreciate the truth that the writer is trying to get at. It is a 4 or 5 star read in terms of quality but my level of discomfort and distress made it hard for me to rate it that way. To say that Minnie's experience is anything less than completely screwed up is wrong. She is taken advantage o ...more
Audra Spiven
I chose this book because it sounded edgy and interesting and like it might touch on some universal topics that adolescent girls deal with that nobody likes or wants to touch on normally.


This was simply an account of an extremely dysfunctional family, a girl who should've been taken away by social services, and a man who should've been imprisoned for statutory rape and endangerment of a child. Oh yeah, and a mother for neglect.

I couldn't finish this book. It was disgusting.

I know some peopl
I can think of plenty of good things to say about Diary, but ultimately I dreaded picking it up most nights and it took me forever to finish. While I think it has unique worth, I very simply didn't enjoy it, hence my low rating. I would say this has much more to do with the structure and writing than the subject matter, which many here have found extreme. The illustrations were a high point for me, but couldn't carry the entire book. This is the kind of story people either love or loathe, and un ...more
Clara Eddy
May 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Lolita-syndrome :) scares :) the :) crap :) out :) of :) me :)
Sian Lile-Pastore
I loved this so much! So open and honest and really captures what it's like to be a teenage girl (even tho she's sleeping with her moms boyfriend) ...more
Chloe Heins
This novel is raw, genuine, gut-turning, and heart-wrenching. This book is triggering in many ways: rape, sexual assault, verbal and emotional abuse, drug abuse, and body dysmorphia. I've spoken to others who have read The Diary of a Teenage Girl who could not get through it or could not appreciate the fine details because of its graphic nature. So as a preservice teacher, I may not choose this as a whole-class or group text, but if a mature enough of a student is willing to experience Minnie's ...more
May 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
3:17 PM The Diary of a Teenage Girl by Phoebe Gloeckner is really good
The voice of Minnie Goetz at age 15 is so precise, so immediate, that I believe Gloeckner had to have used her own exact diary entries

3:18 PM and if we can assume a lot of the narrative is autobiographical, then that means Gloeckner had a pretty fucked up childhood + teenage years, but as an adult, she seems to be in a better place now. Married with a couple kids, an Associate Professor at Univ. of Michigan

3:20 PM I heard abo
(Not rating this)

What can I say about a book which both made me deeply distressed, un-comfortable, and at times nauseated but was also the most visceral portrayal of one young woman's teenage experience I've ever read?

I can say this.


I've read a lot of literature centered around the lives of young adults but nothing has ever felt more honest than this book. So unlike my own experience but nevertheless wholly and terrifyingly realistic. This is partially due to the fact that Goleckner stole
Jan 24, 2016 rated it liked it

This was hard to read, because it was so cuttingly teenage.

I'd forgotten how strong things felt then, how new everything was, how difficult it was to experience things for the first time. This is what it was like. Minnie's emotions, her experiences, the way she feels and copes - this is what it was like.
I think the author puts it best in her preface to the Revised Edition:

The question I've most often been asked about this book is, "Is it true? Is it about your own experience?" I am conf
Sep 09, 2017 rated it liked it
I couldn't look away, but was horrified at the same time. ...more
Christina Mitchell
Nov 04, 2015 rated it liked it
I need to choose my words carefully for this review. I need to choose my words carefully because I do not really know what to think of this book, whether to like it or hate it. I bought the book following Phoebe Gloeckner's interview with Terry Gross on Fresh Air. Please know, I do not wish to give spoilers, but I think at least one spoiler might occur. I will try to choose my words carefully.

In the Fresh Air interview, Gross broached the subject of the affair between Gloeckner and Gloeckner's m
readathon17 Book 9: a book bought from a bookstore you usually don't shop

I actually found it mostly boring.
It is not the first book I read about teenagers having "shocking" sex and taking drugs.
I think it should be much shorter, it started and ended good but in the middle it was an endless blah blah about how she is in love with the 35-year-old guy she is having sex with, letters from her ex father-in-law that don't connect to the rest of the story, some poems... It should have been way shorter,
Jan 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Equally disturbing and compelling. When I first started it, I wasn't sure I was going to be able to go on: it really does read like the diary of a teenage girl. (Some of the statements in the entries seem vapid or wildly non sequitur. Like, immediately after telling a disturbing fact about what just happened to her or what she willingly participated in, she'll say, "I really like candy.")
But then, suddenly, I found myself completely drawn in. By the end, I felt so angry at the adults who should
Fictionalized autobiography. Urban San Francisco in the 70s. Sexual exploration by a teenaged girl. Statutory rape. Diary. Sections in comic-book form.

This book has a LOT going on. In the Foreword to this edition, Hillary Chute writes that this book "Is a book unlike any other you will read; it has no comparison or competitor."
This is, of course, untrue. As soon as any "new form" is published, others will be inspired by that work and create their own takes. This may have been a breakthrough fo
An intense novel with a graphic novel element. All that teenage angst with many a bad choice thrown in and the bad choices aren't all committed by the teenage girl. Quite a few adults in the mix making their own sets of terrible choices. Nobody dies but not for want of opportunity.
Fascinating in a train-wreak kind of way and the author is a talented artist.
The Diary of a Teenage Girl was perfect. It had the perfect amount of graphic novel parts and the perfect amount of diary entries with just words. There were beautiful sketches throughout. And although it may not be a perfect representation of exactly all teenage girls during that time, but it's who Minnie Goetz was is in this book. I wanted to pick up this book every second because I truly cared what happened to Minnie. It really interests me how parts of the book are real diary entries from Ph ...more
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