By Ramsey Beyer
Zest Books, 2013
I've been reading quite a lot of graphic novels recently, and really loved this memoir from a small town girl, age 18, off to college in the city for the first time. She's used her real livejournal entries, lists and zines she made at the time, linked with comics telling the story of her life over that first year.
It's not particularly thrilling, but it's not meant to be - it's a pretty honest recounting of what it was like to be an innocent teen who's lived her whole life in a small town, who breaks out and goes to art school away from home, experiencing all the things that will be familiar to anyone who's been in that situation - making new friends when you know no-one, getting brave about going out and exploring, suffering the criticism of teachers at a new level of education, learning to balance the budget and the workload and have a social life as well, and maybe even starting an important relationship.
As a girl from the country myself, I headed to the big smoke - Auckland - in my 6th form to go to boarding school after living on farms in the Waikato for most of my childhood. I wasn't as exposed to the big wide world as Ramsey is, going to college, but I had to do the other stuff - making friends from nothing, going from being one of the smart kids in a small high school, to one of the average ones in my big city school. Learning to find my way around town on my own, and breaking out of the schoolgirl mould to find out who I would be.
So this is probably why I liked this book so much. I love books with everyday detail, the domestic stuff about how a life actually works. I also really enjoyed Ramsey's discovery of feminism and gender issues and vegans, things I had certainly known nothing about before I left home too.