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

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"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 a speleologist, or a bartender. She sleeps with her mother's boyfriend, and yet is too shy to talk with boys at school. She forges her way through adolescence, unsupervised and unguided, defenseless, and yet fearless.

The story unfolds in the libertine atmosphere of the 1970s San Francisco, but the significance of Minnie's effort to understand herself and her world is universal. This is the story of an adolescent troubled by the discontinuity between what she thinks and feels and what she observes in those around her. The Diary of a Teenage Girl offers a searing comment on adult society as seen though the eyes of a young woman on the verge of joining it.

In this unusual novel, artist and writer Phoebe Gloeckner presents a pivotal year in a girl's life, recounted in diary pages and illustrations, with full narrative sequences in comics form.

320 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2002

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Phoebe Gloeckner

20 books163 followers

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Profile Image for Carmen.
2,050 reviews1,835 followers
June 21, 2020



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 (Minnie's mom's boyfriend, who has raised her since she was 11) starts touching Minnie's breasts. She's 15. He's 35. He's her mom's bf. He keeps telling her she's making him hard and she's curious about having sex so they 'have sex'. (It's really rape, she's 15. Any time I use 'have sex' in quotes I mean 'rape'.)

- She's a virgin and he's "really surprised." She's 15 and he's raised her since she was 11, so either he's a fucking idiot or he's just pretending like he had no idea she'd be a virgin.

- It hurt and it still hurts and I'm sure it was the most colorful blood that will ever come out of me. Afterwards, we lay quietly beside one another on the bed. We both still had our jackets on, naked from just the waist down. I drew an "X" on his leg with my blood. He said he couldn't believe I was a virgin.

- She picks up a random 16-year-old boy in the park and fucks him in the bushes. Monroe is not really good in bed and he treats her like a child so she's looking for satisfaction elsewhere.

- Monroe appears to also have designs on her 13yo little sister.

- Minnie starts dating a boy at school named Ricky. He's an asshole. They have sex.

- She drinks all the time and is drunk a lot.

- She find out her best friend Kimmie goes over to Mr. Cortos' house all the time. He gives her $100 dollars every time she's there. Sometimes she lets him rub her down with suntan oil and grope her.

- We meet Pascal, her former stepdad, who's known her since she was 4. He keeps writing mildly sexual things to her and it's fucking creepy. Throughout the whole book we are wondering if he is a fucking creeper or a halfway decent guy. SPOILER ALERT: He's a fucking creeper piece of shit.

- Kimmie (the best friend) babysits for a black man who is married to a white woman. He has her give him blowjobs every chance he gets. He wants to fuck her all the time but his cock is too big and she always begs him to just let her suck her off. She sees nothing wrong with this or what she's doing with Mr. Cortos.

- Ricky's friend Arnie lies to Minnie in order to trick him into coming over. Then they do drugs together. He wants to have sex with Minnie and tells her Ricky "gave him permission" to fuck her whenever he wants. It didn't occur to either boy that she might not agree. She doesn't have sex with Arnie.

- She and Kimmie go see their classmate Fred in a mental institution. Fred and Kimmie fuck and Kimmie warns Fred not to have sex with Minnie and asks Minnie not to have sex with Fred. But Minnie doesn't care. She really wants to fuck Fred. They fool around together, but don't have sex because the mental ward is too heavily monitored.

- Monroe LOVES listening to her tell stories about all the guys she's fucked. It gets him off.

- She starts doing drugs and more alcohol.

- Kimmie wants Minnie to come to a motel with the black guy she babysits for so he can fuck both of them. He gives them drugs and alcohol. But they run away before he can have a threesome with them. Remember, he's married with two children.

- Monroe hangs out shirtless with Minnie and Kimmie and says sleazoid shit about how pretty they are.

- Kimmie starts having sex with another married man named Jay.

- Her mom starts dating another man (in addition to Monroe). When that man is nice to Minnie, she thinks he's trying to fuck her. It's only later it occurs to her he might have been trying to be fatherly or big brotherly. She's been conditioned that any man who is nice to you wants sex.

- "Jesus, you really like to fuck, don't you?" he said. His voice was slurry. "And what about that Kimmie? She really likes to fuck too, doesn't she? What am I going to do with you girls?" Monroe wants to add Minnie's bff to his underage stable. Not to mention he's still making eyes at the 13yo.

- Monroe has sex with Minnie and Kimmie at the same time in a big threesome where they all fuck each other. He's so thrilled. He wants to fuck Minnie's other friend, who is a virgin, and he goes after her, but Minnie makes him leave her alone. He says that ever since he's fucked Kimmie and her at the same time he thinks he has a right to sexual access with all her friends.

- Monroe still wants to fuck Minnie, but only 'allows' her to suck him off. He won't fuck her anymore. This makes her very sad, but no matter how much she begs for sex, he will only let her suck cock. .."What dirty old man like me wouldn't give anything to be fucking a 15-year-old regularly?"...he asked me to suck him off. I asked him to fuck me and he said, "I thought you'd be satisfied with giving me a blowjob...I kept sobbing... he guided my head towards his lap and I sucked him off, choking and sobbing all the while. I wanted to make love, but after he came he just zipped it back up...

- She gets stoned and has sex with John even though she "hates him" and "he's ugly and stupid."

- She has sex with 24-year-old Robert who she met on a phone line.

- Her 70-year-old male psychiatrist gives her a vibrator to use and makes her tell him about sex and is super-icky and inappropriate with her, but he doesn't rape her. Ethics mean nothing, no man can be trusted. He knows Monroe is 'having sex' with her and doesn't tell her mom or do anything to stop it.

- Minnie goes out with Kimmie, they pretend they are whores and they pick up some men and fuck them. You know, for laughs. As one does.

- Everyone has been really warning Minnie away from this lesbian, Tabatha, who she has been eyeing and who is eyeing her. She ignores them.

- Monroe punches Minnie in the stomach.

- A man tries to pull Minnie into a car at night so he can rape and kill her. He has a gun but she escapes.

- Her (shitty) mom finds out Minnie and Monroe have been 'having sex' and demands they get married.

- Tabatha takes Minnie to a house full of men. She gets Minnie high/passed-out and all the men rape her. As a reward, Tabatha gets a bottle of drugs. She immediately takes Minnie to another house, forces her to take crystal meth using needles, and then lets another guy rape her.

- Minnie is a runaway and living with a gay man in a house where she feels safe because every man there is gay. She continues to use a lot of drugs.

- Minnie keeps seeing and having sex with Tabatha even after the gangrape and forced drug use.

- Minnie beats the shit out of Tabatha when she catches Tabatha making out with a 14-year-old girl. Then she knocks on a random door and spends the night with a "compassionate, horny black man" who has never seen her before in life. They sleep next to each other and she can feel his dick pressing into her but he doesn't rape her so I guess she feels like he's a good person.

- Pascal (the ex-stepfather who raised her since age 4) says more creepy shit to her. She finally finds out he's been 'having sex' with her 16-year-old friend Elizabeth. She finally realizes he is a creepy pervert and cuts off all contact with him.

- Minnie 'forces' her mother not to bring Monroe to the house anymore, but her mom still dates him and sleeps with him. I guess she didn't think it was a big deal that he was 'having sex' with her 15yo daughter.

SO. Let's analyze.

This is the sickest, most disgusting book I've ever read. And I've read a lot of disgusting shit. If you want to become celibate, this is a good way to start.

There's only two "good" (read: not evil) people in the book: Chuck, Minnie's friend from school. He's a pothead skateboarder and even though he offers to be her boyfriend at one point, he never does anything creepy or sexual to her and always treats her kindly. As a result, she is convinced he's gay. Any male who doesn't want to rape her is gay. This is the result of her life experiences. However, Chuck is not a gay man and at the end of the book he and Minnie are still friends.

The only other good person is Minnie's little sister, 13yo Gretel. However, Minnie's mom is still seeing Monroe and I can't help but think he'll try to rape Gretel sooner or later. I hope not. The mom is no protection for Gretel and I can't help but think she might be plunged into darkness the same way Minnie was.

This book should be included in first-aid kits so that in case someone accidentally ingests poison, this book can be used to induce vomiting. Turn to any page and you will have the urge to vomit. You could also use it as an aid to help give up men. This book purports that no man is safe, none. Even a job in which ethics are important means nothing when you have the opportunity to fuck a 15-year-old. All men are perverts. All men have no morals. The younger the better, right? The only reason a man HASN'T fucked an underage girl is because he's afraid to be caught. Not because, say, he's attracted to grown women and not girls.

This book will make you never want to have a daughter. And if you have a daughter and her father dies, you can never date a man again because he will absolutely, positively fuck your 13yo and 15yo daughters in your own house because, you know, men are scum and it's only natural that they'd want some young pussy. This book will make you pray and pray you only have sons.

Now. You may think I'm against teenagers being sexual beings. Not at all. I know plenty of people who had first-time sex in high school. However, they had sex in loving relationships with boys roughly their own age. Not grown adult men.

Men who want to have sex with 15-year-old girls are fucking perverts. FUCKING PERVERTS. Minnie has no quarter. She's not safe in her own home, the men her mom dates want to fuck her. Her mom's ex-husbands want to fuck her. Her psychiatrist wants to fuck her. Every man on the street she sees wants to fuck her. The men she babysits for want to fuck her. Married, has children, is single, is in a job where ethics are stressed - doesn't matter. All men have no morals and will sleep with any girl who is past the age of first-menstruation. This book is the Warren Jeffs school of thought - if it bleeds it leads. Any girl who has had her first period is "free game."

And there's no women in here to protect Minnie. You'd think with the all-men-are-amoral-creeps line of thought, there'd be a woman who might look out for Minnie or be outraged at what is happening to her or take steps to protect her in some way. There isn't. There's only her mom and she's horrible. The lesbian Minnie meets sells Minnie to some gangrapists for drugs. Even though women aren't doing the actual raping in the book, they are just as big of creeps as the men in this world.

You can only look out for yourself. There's no one who is going to help you or protect you or shield you. EDITED TO ADD: She does feel safe with her gay male friends. And her gay friend does offer her shelter when she's on the street. Chuck also is a man she's 'safe' with, although that only stretches to 'safe from him raping her' not 'he will protect her.'

Even when Minnie KNOWS Monroe has designs on her younger sister, she doesn't do a damn thing about it. He never rapes Gretel in the book, but I'd be interested to see how Minnie would react to that. Unfortunately, I don't think she'd be outraged or disgusted or protective. Instead, I think she'd see it as 'natural' that Monroe would 'want some younger pussy' and probably think the 13yo is capable of making her own decisions.

Okay, so even though this book is the most DISGUSTING thing I've ever read IN MY LIFE (considering what I've been reading lately that means a lot) - it's extremely well-written. Gloeckner has an amazing voice and you are exactly in a teenager's head. A smart, creative, fierce teenager's head. It's amazing writing. And since it's all based on Gloeckner's old diaries (you can read that it's pretty much word-for-word because she includes excerpts from her real diaries in the back), Gloeckner must be a pretty amazing person - smart and wildly creative.

I feel so bad about what happened to her, though. And I know she doesn't want me to. She doesn't feel any pity for herself or any sadness about what happened to her as a young girl. But I can't help but weep when I think about everything that happened to her. I mean, it's fucking sick. It's about as sick as you can get without including sex with animals, sex with dead bodies, or sex with little girls who haven't hit puberty yet. I mean, we run through everything here: rape, gangrape, forced drug use, etc. etc. And this all takes place within a year's time to a 15-year-old.

Tl;dr - Amazing writing. You are truly in the head of a smart and creative teenager who makes sometimes startlingly beautiful observations about the world. On the other hand, this book made me so sick to my stomach I couldn't keep anything down. And I called and canceled the date I had tonight with what could be a perfectly good guy. I just can't stomach looking at or thinking about a man right now, much less allow one to touch me and take me out. Good book to read if you are planning to become a nun, bad book to read if you have a daughter, niece, cousin, sister, granddaughter or any kind of young woman/girl whom you love in life. Might cause you to hate all men. Might cause you to avoid men. Might cause you to distrust men. HIGHLY TRIGGERING for anyone who has suffered rape and abuse.

ONE STAR for content. The book is vomit-inducing. Constant vomiting, nonstop, no lulls. FIVE STARS for the writing, Gloeckner couldn't be smarter or more creative or more observant.
Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,083 reviews17.3k followers
March 23, 2020
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 must offer catharsis, growth, and change to feel dynamic and interesting, rather than to feel like a simple fetishization of pain.

The book starts off following a 13-year-old girl’s repeated sexual and physical abuse by her stepfather. At first, my assumption was that this was to offer a point about abuse, catharsis for the lead, development for the lead, or some combination. It does none of the above. It does offer, however, both physical and verbal abuse from her mother, a lot more sex, an abusive relationship with another girl, a lot of drug use, and several pedophilic sexual assaults on both Minnie and Minnie’s friends.

It is this, primarily, that I had a problem with. I don’t think the narrative of this book is interested in unpacking the trauma Minnie has experienced, or unpacking the logistics of a society desperate to take all agency and bodily control from young women. It is not interested in unpacking the effects on Minnie, simply on thrusting the next torment on her.

The blurb of this book describes it as such:
This is the story of a young woman troubled by the discontinuity between what she thinks and feels and what she observes in those around her.

And it is that, I suppose. She is troubled by the contrast between her budding mind and the long list of men waiting to take advantage of her. But throughout this book, through every scene, I never felt as though the book actually cared.

I discovered while perusing Goodreads that a lot of this book is essentially excerpts from the author’s diary. And I think writing about trauma of this nature can be incredibly cathartic on its own, a simple letting out. But… I don’t particularly see the value in reading it, in the sense that it is a fictional narrative.

Diary of a Teenage Girl does not offer growth or change. It offers one long strain of misery. And I’m just not sure I see very much value in that.

TW: many many graphic sexual assault scenes, a very large amount of pedophilia, drug use, forced drug use.

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Profile Image for Joe.
Author 16 books30 followers
January 8, 2009
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 a week visiting a dysfunctional family who I love, but I'm glad that the visit is over. A remarkable book.
Profile Image for Aishu Rehman.
814 reviews727 followers
December 28, 2020
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.
322 reviews21 followers
September 14, 2015
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 expecting this book to be the typical whiny, angst-y YA book, but it was the opposite of a YA book. It was disturbing, disgusting, and as a mother of a teenager, absolutely terrifying if this is being represented as a typical teenager's experience. This book is touted as the sexual exploration of a teenager - absolutely NOT! It's about abuse, but never treated as such. No teenager or woman should read this book and think anything about what she went through is ok or typical.
Profile Image for Katy Johnson.
43 reviews8 followers
May 10, 2007
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.
Profile Image for Stephanie.
141 reviews72 followers
February 11, 2008
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 up!" because she doesn't know anything else. Whether it's smoking dope with her mom or wandering the streets at 2 a.m. or having sex with a 36 year old man, Minnie is forced to navigate the world by herself, since the adults around her are totally self-obsessed. Even her caring stepfather lets her down in the end, causing Minnie (and the reader) to wonder if all father figures for young girls are tormented by sexual desire.

If you're a fan of writers like Lynda Barry and Francesca Lia Block, this would be a good read for you. If, on the other hand, your teen years were more akin to the "Sweet Valley High" books, give this one a pass. Otherwise, it will blow the windmills of your mind.
Profile Image for Elizabeth.
397 reviews5 followers
May 30, 2014
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. The references to actual places in San Francisco was on point and drew back real memories myself.

In learning about her own sexuality, Minnie begins having sex with her mom's boyfriend. She racks up a number of boys and men that she sleeps with in a fairly short about of time. She experiments with drugs and alcohol. She's risky, in a way that isn't to her advantage.

Gloeckner captures perfectly the inner thoughts of a teenage girl. The struggles that Minnie goes through in regards to being taken advantage of by grown men is really sad. How she internally copes is sadder, because it doesn't seem like she realizes that grown men having sex with a 15 year old isn't good.

I recently found my diary from high school and was frankly embarrassed by what was in it, so I chucked it in the trash. I didn't go through anything that Minnie did, but the writing style and the angst was reminiscent of how I wrote and felt when I was that age.

This is not a read for the faint of heart - but it's poignant.
Profile Image for Jill Collins.
55 reviews5 followers
August 15, 2015
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 exploration, Lolita is little more than a plot device. In Minnie, we have a complex victim, lush with adolescent emotion and startling insight, and we have a portrait of her abuser, filtered through the unsettling eyes of total love and adoration. We witness the complete collapse of Minnie's relationship with her mother who is at best, jealous of her daughter's youth; and at worst, increasingly willing to drink and drug herself into denial. Never moralizing, just an all around superb book, based on the author's own childhood diary. I'll definitely be picking up this author's other work.
Profile Image for flannery.
360 reviews23 followers
April 8, 2015
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 the default, the way we explore universal truths and abstractions and blah blah blah; tell the same story with a female narrator and it's all of a sudden "...from the perspective of a girl" like it's a handicap, like it might as well be from the dog's point of view. And if the narrator is female, and isn't pre-pubescent or sexless or otherwise "neutral," then it's suddenly loaded. Trust me, I went to college, I know! So it's SO NICE and SO REFRESHING to have a book about a promiscuous young girl that is not "about" promiscuity, or "about" being a girl, but a coming of age book in the same tradition as Catcher in the Rye, about something bigger, more universal, abstract. Excellent, I loved it so much.
Profile Image for Ciara.
Author 3 books342 followers
November 10, 2008
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 attack boyfriend), but still. & it is illustrated. i don't even like excessive chest hair on actual dudes that i might bone in reality, let alone illsutrated chest hair on skeevy comic dudes who would bone teenagers! man, i am only 29, but i think i have totally lost touch with what it's like to be a teenager. the idea of anyone under the age of 25 getting it on totally disgusts me, & even 25 is pushing it. but the main thing i didn't like about this book was the illustrations, which is kind of ironic, because it's a graphic novel. the illustrations are kind of the point. they just didn't do it for me. everyone looked kind of ugly & porcine & un-likeable. not that ugly, porcine types are inherently un-likeable, but these characters...none of them stirred my sympathies. maybe it had something to do with the narrator's detached voice. she didn't seem to really judge anyone, so i was judging everyone for every tiny little thing & wondering why the fuck i should give a rip about a bunch of shiftless skeezoids. i'd read it again in an effort to affect a less biased perspective, but it's really long, so that's not actually going to happen.
Profile Image for Zedsdead.
1,076 reviews65 followers
February 27, 2015
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 drawings and sad, sad sex.

Minnie oscillates between naive obliviousness and remarkable perceptiveness regarding her loveless, tawdry life and the sleazy adults filling it. Maybe this is meant to convey how she's bridging the awkward gap between child and woman. Or maybe it's just inconsistent writing. I suspect the latter.

I dunno, maybe it's insightful if you can relate to the protagonist. But despite being a former teenage hornball myself, I merely found Diary to be by turns tiresome--when she's doing the cliched self-centered-dramatic-teen thing--and just gross--when she's being taken advantage of by older men. I'm actually relieved to not be finishing it.
Profile Image for David.
113 reviews
March 22, 2015
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. Brilliantly engaged writing; I couldn't put it down.
Profile Image for Rosanne.
480 reviews23 followers
February 9, 2016
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 of in every way imaginable and it is very hard to watch. There is a casual racism in the narrative that also did not sit well with me, I assume it is meant to highlight the girls' ignorance, their position in society and the insulated nature of their lives and experiences.

Liked this edition-great panels and extras.
Profile Image for Natalie.
63 reviews11 followers
November 23, 2008
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, and the situation wreaks havoc on her identity and ideas of intimacy.
Though this is a work of fiction by young female protagonist it is pretty graphic and, at times, a little hard to take. Nevertheless, this was my first binge-read out of library school and I wasn't disappointed.
Profile Image for Audra Spiven.
472 reviews1 follower
February 2, 2016
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 people have really awful childhoods, but what is the most disturbing about this book for me is that the author paints the events of this book as the normal and universal struggles that every adolescent girl grows up dealing with. No. Nonononononono.

Do not recommend.
Profile Image for Chloe Heins.
15 reviews
September 5, 2018
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 self-discovery, I would gladly put them up to the task. Whereas some do not like it, I loved it. Here's why (minor SPOILERS ahead):

First, this is not your average coming-of-age novel. A semi-autobiography of the author, protagonist Minnie explores her sexual awakening at the ripe age of 15. A true product of forced maturity in 1976's San Francisco, Minnie has endured a troublesome life: separated from her father, involuntary role model to her sister, parent to her mother, and as we discover right away, in love and in an affair with her mother's boyfriend. At first, these details are shocking. The first step to breaking down this novel is getting into Minnie's head and analyzing her character. She lives in a time and place known for sexual revolutions, and she is hypersexualized by those around her, including much-older adult men. Minnie, due to aforementioned adversities, was forced into maturity, part of which comes with a sexual awakening. As a reader, I had to remind myself that considering the setting and the character, Minnie's sexual presence really shouldn't be very shocking at all -- in fact, I can think of a few California teens I know personally going through the same situations today. As shocking as it is, Minnie's story is not unrealistic, and to believe otherwise is to be purposefully naive. I believe the point of this book was to make readers uncomfortable in the reality of our world.

Second, the artistic component of this novel is, frankly, genius. Like any graphic novel, the images are just as important to analyze as the dialogue, and this is a fantastic text to practice multiple literacies. The hand-drawn images are purposeful and display not only a Bildungsroman (educational journey/ formative years) but a Künstlerroman (artist's journey/formative years). Minnie's drawings have direct relation to her emotional state, helping readers visualize her emotional growth and complexity. These can also be a great tool for lessons in imagery. For example, there is a moment in which Minnie describes how her personality and sexuality make her feel uncomfortable in her world. In the related image, she draws herself as a giant towering over the Golden Gate Bridge. Diving into the imagery, a reader can discover that Minnie is visually representing her body dysmorphia, and feelings that she, quite literally in the image, does not "fit in" in the world around her.

Yes, this book is raw and disturbing and uncomfortable, but it is an accurate portrayal of real experiences and emotions of a precarious teenage girl and the adverse depictions in this novel should not take away from its literary fullness. Diary of a Teenage Girl requires a particular audience, but I believe anyone could read it and appreciate it when paired with the proper dialogue and guidance. Both the plot and imagery is masterful and intriguing from beginning to end.

To make a long story short, I love this novel, and I highly recommend it to readers who are ready for the journey.
Profile Image for Christina Mitchell.
153 reviews11 followers
November 16, 2015
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 mother's sometimes boyfriend. This diary is based on Gloeckner's actual diaries and the demarcation between real and fiction is impossible to distinguish. Gloeckner has admitted to this affair, so the realness of this event, at least, is not in question. Gross's interview stated that most adults would consider what the boyfriend did was, at best, molestation and, at worst, repeated sexual assault. Gloeckner denies either of those extremes stating she was a sexually cognizant and eager participant. Here is where I need to choose my words carefully because I will not speak for Gloeckner or discount her reality.

The boyfriend, nearly 10-15 years older than Gloeckner at the time, did take advantage of Gloeckner. I think that much Gloeckner would agree with. The boyfriend, unable, unwilling, or incapable of acting like a responsible adult (I wonder if the shit ever grew up - somehow, I doubt it), took advantage of the willing situation, that is, Gloeckner's willingness placed in front of him. But, see, he wasn't the only shithead to do this. As far as I can tell, nearly every adult encountered in the book seemingly took the same advantage of Gloeckner's willingness. This included her mother and the sick college-educated step-father/molester. I think Gloeckner's ability to snap out of it (obviously with some bumps along the road) and take care of herself where every adult decided their needs came above what was best for Gloeckner is nothing short of stupendous. Go, Phoebe!

I couldn't say if Gloeckner would want to be congratulated. I get the impression from the Gross interview, she wouldn't. That's fair. Again, this is her reality and I'm just an onlooker. Still, I congratulate her.

Even while I hate the shithead adults in the book (and they are truly shitty adults), what I appreciate so much about the book is that Gloeckner was what I was: a sexually desirous and active teenager. Here is a character that didn't give audiences a puritanical teenager, the kind that surrounded me in the YA literature of my time, but a young woman who enjoyed sex and was adventurous with her sexuality. I grew up in a small town so the only identity for me was slut. At 45 years old, I've made peace with that but I still know I acted outside what was publicly correct or proper. So be it. I did enjoy myself and am not ashamed of that. Thus, well done, Phoebe Gloeckner. I wish I had found your book much earlier. Maybe it wouldn't have taken me until I was 35 to not feel guilty about who I was and, quite frankly, who I am now.
Profile Image for Leo.
26 reviews
August 10, 2022
This is either for you or it isnt. You’ll love it or hate it type of thing. I love it but I can acknowledge that there are reasons to hate it and I understand them. But the circumstances for which I read this the first time make it of great comfort to me and I don’t think that will change but I don’t think I’ll read this ever again.

Anyway let’s get to a real review not a vague one. I know it’s good for people and myself to criticize this book for its poor handling and almost romantic approach to portraying trauma. But it’s a journal and we have to take into account this girl is 15 and in love for the first time. We tend to forget what that feels like, she’s not a reliable narrator. While she may have an idea she’s being taken advantage of she’s naive and puts the blame on herself often.

She’s merely writing what she understands in that very moment (if it truly is based off a true story). I think it’s brave and even important to have published something so raw, I feel like someone had to make a book like this and I don’t think repeats of it would be any good. Anyway just because Minnie sees and feels things with Monroe the way she does doesn’t mean that’s truly how it happened. We can’t trust her but any naive girl reading this like I myself was when I still identified as such will find comfort in the relatability of Minnies honesty.

Also for fucks sake it’s supposed to be disturbing. The drawings especially when Minnie is intimate with Monroe, it’s supposed to be gross and shock you into understanding the reality of the situation so you can’t deny it. The drawings are even more honest then Minnie in that sense. If you aren’t ready for that then take this as a trigger warning.

I think this book is the product of catharsis and for the authors sake I wish it hadn’t been published but for the readers sake I am quite glad it was. By that I mean, as someone who was once a 16 year old “girl” writing letters constantly to someone who didn’t care, I would be devastated and embarassed if anyone read those today. But again, that kind of rawness is what I respect about this book. It’s unapologetic and often very beautiful.

It’s a better read when you’re a teenage and if you’re not it’s a bit more difficult to get through but I think that just points to it’s authenticity.

I also enjoyed hearing about someone’s experiences with hyper sexuality as I’ll never know what that’s like myself so that was interesting and made me think a bit.

I’ll be honest it does get a little bit excessive at the end but I assume that’s cuz it’s a real story without any real resolution.

When I read this book for the first time I needed it because of what I was dealing with at the time, I felt like Minnie understood me. I read it again years later and it feels like the warmest closure I’ll ever get for what happened to me then.

I’ve never had so much to say about a book. I don’t love it wholeheartedly for what it is content wise, I love it for what it gave me.
Profile Image for Katherine.
346 reviews144 followers
February 7, 2017
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 unfortunately I'm in the latter camp.
Profile Image for Clara Eddy.
53 reviews7 followers
July 4, 2016
Lolita-syndrome :) scares :) the :) crap :) out :) of :) me :)
Profile Image for Sian Lile-Pastore.
1,177 reviews147 followers
May 11, 2018
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)
Profile Image for Carla.
4 reviews
September 30, 2022
chicas me ha encantado es buenísimo enplan el valor cultural q tiene este libro.... uf... solo quiero leer perspectiva de mujeres a partir de ahora. amo los diarios y la autoficción. La traducción es bien mala porfavor reeditadlo !
Profile Image for Vicky.
460 reviews
May 31, 2012
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 about this "graphic novel" (it's actually more novel than comics) in 2009 but somewhere within me, I dismissed it as probably being teenage-y, with a lot of typical sex, drugs, angst, and it actually IS those things, but not in a disconnected way where you hate the characters

3:21 PM There is something so real about it, in the confusion of the characters, no one is necessarily a bad person, not even Monroe, the boyfriend of Minnie's mom who sleeps with Minnie, too

3:23 PM I totally disagree with C.X.'s two-star review on Goodreads in which she mentions being 29 and not being able to imagine anyone under the age of 25 having sex, which is why Minnie Goetz and the whole book disturbs her so much

3:25 PM Her review is so unfair, and so mistaken as if she doesn't know how to read somebody's LIFE STORY

3:31 PM I wonder if the girl on the cover is actually Phoebe Gloeckner. Certainly looks like her, the eyebrows, the slightly upturned nose.

3:34 PM I don't know how one can dislike/hate Minnie Goetz. She's so honest. There are some warm moments, too, like when her mom is drunk and doesn't want her drink anymore, her mom tosses the entire drink—including the glass—into a USPS mailbox

3:35 PM and Minnie is shocked. She writes in her diary, "I would never do that. What if there's a letter from a grandmother to her grandchild in there? Or from a little girl, a letter with heart stickers on it, in which she apologizes to her best friend? I think it's against the law anyway to tamper with the U.S. mail."

3:43 PM me: I'm going to copy and paste this chat and use it as my review lol

3:46 PM so my final comment is that reading this book encourages me to write in my diary and anything that makes me want to write is high/five/stars


Profile Image for Emma.
192 reviews119 followers
February 5, 2017
(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 from her own teenage diaries to craft this story and these character. But this is also due to the fact that Gloeckner is unafraid and un-apologetic about displaying the harder, tougher, and rougher sides of teenage life, and the complex relationship some teenagers have with sex.

This book will sometimes make you want to scream, to cry, or to scrub yourself clean. It's visceral, with or without the illustrations and comics. But in my opinion, it's worth it. It's a book that makes you think. It makes you think about power dynamics, about lust, about sex, about sexuality, about the way in which the world can forget (and forget) a young woman who has so much to offer.

This book is tough. It's not at all enjoyable but it's powerful.

S/o the other coolest Emma for reading this with me.
Profile Image for June.
164 reviews1 follower
January 24, 2016

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 confounded by this question....In many ways, this book is "about" me. However, this book is just as strongly about you, too....Although I am the source of Minnie, she cannot be me - for the book to have real meaning, she must be all girls, anyone....It's not my story. It's our story.

And it's true. This is Minnie's story, but as I read, it also dredged up my own teenage years, visceral emotions and a state of mind I hadn't realized I'd forgotten. Diary of a Teenage Girl is a time capsule - or maybe more accurately, a message in a bottle; misplaced memories and emotions will resurface after years of being misplaced.
Profile Image for Shawnnnee.
115 reviews21 followers
May 15, 2022
Als im Jahr 2015 der gleichnamige Film erschienen ist, habe ich mich in Minnies Geschichte schockverliebt. Jetzt nach vielen Jahren endlich auch die Vorlage gelesen zu haben, machte Minnies Schicksal für mich noch eindringlicher als in der - dennoch wirklich großartigen - filmischen Adaption. Dieser Roman mit Graphic-Novel-Anteilen ist sowohl faszinierend, als auch düster, aber vor allem einzigartig! Es sind die 1970er in San Franciso, Minnie steckt in der Pubertät und beginnt eine Affäre mit Monroe, dem Freund ihrer Mutter. Es ist eine Geschichte des Erwachsenwerdens, falscher Freundschaften, Drogen, Alkohol, sowie emotionalen wie physischen Missbrauch. Also eine extreme Bandbreite an Themen, welche die Autorin hier auf eine Art und Weise mit einer sehr starken Protagonistin erfolgreich verknüpfen konnte, ohne diese jemals unauthentisch wirken zu lassen. Ich war mehr als gefesselt, begeistert, von Minnie selbst so berührt und den Lehren, die sie aus falschen Entscheidungen zieht, dass ich es wirklich bedauerlich finde, auch mit Hinblick auf die wertvollen Illustrationen, dass dieses Buch bisher keine deutsche Übersetzung erfahren hat.
Profile Image for HajarRead.
241 reviews524 followers
February 14, 2016
Trop triste... trop vrai. J'ai encore envie de buter sa mère. Trop triste, vraiment.
Profile Image for Beverly.
785 reviews279 followers
September 9, 2017
I couldn't look away, but was horrified at the same time.
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