How I Made It to Eighteen: A Mostly True Story

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Overview

How do you know if you’re on the verge of a nervous breakdown?  For seventeen-year-old Stacy Black, it all begins with the smashing of a window. After putting her fist through the glass, she checks into a mental hospital.  Stacy hates it there but despite herself slowly realizes she has to face the reasons for her depression to stop from self-destructing.  Based on the author’s experiences, How I Made it to Eighteen is a frank portrait of what it’s like to ...

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Overview

How do you know if you’re on the verge of a nervous breakdown?  For seventeen-year-old Stacy Black, it all begins with the smashing of a window. After putting her fist through the glass, she checks into a mental hospital.  Stacy hates it there but despite herself slowly realizes she has to face the reasons for her depression to stop from self-destructing.  Based on the author’s experiences, How I Made it to Eighteen is a frank portrait of what it’s like to struggle with self-esteem, body image issues, drug addiction, and anxiety.

How I Made It to Eighteen is a 2011 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.

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  • How I Made It to Eighteen
    How I Made It to Eighteen  

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
How I Made It To Eighteen depicts the raw honest truth of a breakdown, told with great girl irony, fierceness and heart. I loved it.”  — Eve Ensler, author of The Vagina Monologues

 

 

How I Made it to Eighteen is part hug, part armor for anyone who battles gray days. The clarity of Tracy White's voice and graphic style transforms an intensely realized experience with wit, courage and grace. Her story pulled me in and held me deep.”

—Adele Griffin, National Book Award finalist for Where I Want to Be

 

 

"White’s “mostly true story” begins when seventeen-year-old Stacy Black enters Golden Meadows Hospital in an attempt to feel like herself again—whoever that is. Ostensibly Stacy works toward her goal of being happy again, earning privileges at the hospital and even becoming close friends with another patient. But she moves both forward and backward in her recovery, clinging to an unhealthy relationship with Eric, offering advice she cannot take, and refusing to be open and honest about her thoughts and actions. 

"Stacy’s story of anxiety, abuse, self-harm, addiction, and depression, is also a story of an interesting, creative young woman and her friends, a veritable chorus that adds perspective and insight into Stacy’s struggles. White’s images are as intense and telling as the written text. Comparisons to Susanna Kaysen’s Girl, Interrupted (Random House, 1993) are unavoidable: both are stories of self-discovery, memoirs of the female authors' time in mental health facilities during their late adolescence. Both Kaysen’s and White’s stories are fascinating and frustrating. Most significantly, both memoirs stop short of offering easy solutions to complicated problems. White’s perspective is honest, often unflinchingly and quite unsympathetic to her adolescent self. Still it is made clear why Stacy is likeable and loyal. More honest than Cut (Front Street, 2000/VOYA February 2001), more intriguing even than Girl, Interrupted, White’s novel uses stark black-and-white imagery to construct her frank and honest story of a fraught adolescence." — VOYA

 

Tracy White's "mostly true" graphic novel, How I Made It to Eighteen (Roaring Brook, 2010), begins when the 17-year-old narrator checks herself into Golden Meadows Hospital after smashing a glass window with her fist. Struggling with depression, exhaustion, and drug addiction, Stacy Black just wants to feel like herself again ("I just don't know who 'me' is anymore"). Described with stark candor, her recovery is heart-wrenching and hard-won, as she wrestles with issues of self-esteem and body image, hangs on to an unhealthy relationship with her boyfriend, and refuses to admit to anyone–even herself–that she has an eating disorder. Meanwhile, her interactions with the other patients reveal her to be a caring, encouraging, and creative individual, and her desire to get better is both earnest and inspiring. White's artwork is as unflinchingly honest as her narrative, and the graphic-novel format keeps the pacing slow and deliberate, allowing the emotional content to truly sink in. Interview-style commentary from four of Stacy's friends appears throughout, rounding out the main character and illustrating that these girls struggle with many of the same issues. Words and pictures work flawlessly together to paint an unsentimental, poignant, and telling picture of an arduous experience, revealing that while there are no easy answers, there's a whole lot to work toward and hope for. — School Library Journal

Children's Literature - Heather Robertson Mason
Stacy Black is a drug user. She's bulimic. She's angry. Mostly, though, she is horribly, inconsolably sad and sees no end to it. She checks herself into Golden Meadows Hospital hoping to find some way out of her depression. This graphic novel details her struggle to face the demons haunting her and her inability to love herself. Although the main character's name is slightly different, this is the author's memoir. On the surface, it would seem to be a poorly written book: no real beginning, no definite end, no climax or epiphany. The author's voice, however, is so real, it's like listening to a good friend open their heart. Even though she is a self-destructive liar, she is so honest about her pain that you can't help but hope she finds a way out of it. Her honesty doesn't extend to her friends in the story, giving readers a true sense of the conflict without having to write it into the plot. The author talks very casually about drugs and the story is more subtle than younger readers are used to, so this book would only be appropriate for high school. A beautifully written, and drawn, memoir. Reviewer: Heather Robertson Mason
Library Journal
White's depressions, addictions, and body image issues led her at age 17 to check into a mental hospital to find a way to be happy with her life once more. Simple black-and-white drawings create the effect of an illustrated diary.

(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—White has created a semiautobiographical account of her battle with a mental disorder, bulimia, and drug addiction. Through a variety of formats, readers follow Stacy Black, 17, through this ordeal. The book is divided into chronological sections. Each one opens with text-only panels recording the responses of four friends to a question about Stacy. The densely packed text in these speech balloons requires some effort to wade through. This is followed by copies of documents such as portions of actual doctor and therapist reports. A series of panels then chronicles a period of Stacy's stay at Golden Meadows, a mental hospital. These cartoon panels are highly compelling and the book's strongest feature. White's arrangement of figures within each panel, especially during therapy sessions, exposes Stacy's emotional state. Changes in the artist's point of view inform readers of the teen's slowly changing perspectives of herself and her world. The line, "It's never a good idea to lie your way through therapy" hints at the big reveal in the final pages of the book: Stacy has hidden her episodes of bulimia from the hospital staff. While she tells the group, "I used to be bulimic. I don't have the urge anymore," she is continuing her ongoing dialogue with the toilet in her room. Young adults willing to stay with Stacy through the dense textual passages will find a compelling story.—Barbara M. Moon, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY
Kirkus Reviews
At age 18 Stacy Black-the alter ego of author Tracy White-was hospitalized for depression and an eating disorder. Chronicled in this candid graphic memoir is her journey through institutionalization; her ups and downs with her unreliable boyfriend, Eric; her bleak, unrelenting thoughts and her battle with bulimia. Though Stacy suffers from not one but two disorders, her angst is communicated effortlessly, and readers will have no trouble relating to her. Rounding out Stacy's account is commentary by her friends and "reports" from Stacy's hospital files, adding depth and perspective to the narrative. Though she gives readers an upfront and unflinching portrayal, White ends on a cautiously hopeful note with the promise of college in the horizon. Through her spare, line-based art and stark, dialogue-driven text, White delivers a wallop in this "mostly true" memoir. Think a lighter Girl, Interrupted meets the artistic styling of John Porcellino's Perfect Example (1999). (Graphic memoir. YA)
Publishers Weekly
White's story of a 17-year-old girl's ordeals with depression, addiction, and body image issues is all the more powerful because of its basis in truth. The story follows Stacy Black, whose nervous breakdown leads to her decision to check into the Golden Meadows Hospital for mental health. Given the thinly veiled name of the protagonist, it's no surprise that White is upfront about the events being drawn from her own experiences. Stacy begins with the simple goal of finding a way to be happy with her life again. What follows, though, is life-changing realizations about her drug dependency, her relationship with her mother, and her insecurities about her boyfriend. In the end, her most unexpected revelation is how serious her body image issues are, how much she'd accepted them as an ordinary part of her life, and how much damage they've done to her. White's very simple hand-drawn, b&w artistic style enhances the personal touch of the work, creating the effect of an illustrated diary. While text-heavy, the narration is clear-eyed and affecting. Ages 14-up. (June)
VOYA - Jennifer Miskec
White's "mostly true story" begins when seventeen-year-old Stacy Black enters Golden Meadows Hospital in an attempt to feel like herself again—whoever that is. Ostensibly Stacy works toward her goal of being happy again, earning privileges at the hospital and even becoming close friends with another patient. But she moves both forward and backward in her recovery, clinging to an unhealthy relationship with Eric, offering advice she cannot take, and refusing to be open and honest about her thoughts and actions. Stacy's story of anxiety, abuse, self-harm, addiction, and depression, is also a story of an interesting, creative young woman and her friends, a veritable chorus that adds perspective and insight into Stacy's struggles. White's images are as intense and telling as the written text. Comparisons to Susanna Kaysen's Girl, Interrupted (Random House, 1993) are unavoidable: both are stories of self-discovery, memoirs of the female authors' time in mental health facilities during their late adolescence. Both Kaysen's and White's stories are fascinating and frustrating. Most significantly, both memoirs stop short of offering easy solutions to complicated problems. White's perspective is honest, often unflinchingly and quite unsympathetic to her adolescent self. Still it is made clear why Stacy is likeable and loyal. More honest than Cut (Front Street, 2000/VOYA February 2001), more intriguing even than Girl, Interrupted, White's novel uses stark black-and-white imagery to construct her frank and honest story of a fraught adolescence. Reviewer: Jennifer Miskec
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781596434547
  • Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
  • Publication date: 6/8/2010
  • Pages: 160
  • Sales rank: 477,105
  • Age range: 14 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 6.52 (w) x 9.32 (h) x 0.72 (d)

Meet the Author

Tracy White (www.traced.com) began publishing her work online in 1996. A native of New York City, Tracy has made comics for gURL.com, AOL, and Oxygen TV, as well as a docu-comic for the Lower East Side Tenement Museum about the experiences of immigrant teens living in New York. Her webcomic has been nominated twice for an Ignatz Award. Tracy is currently an adjunct professor at the Interactive Telecommunication Program, which is part of NYU's TISCH School of the Arts.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 7 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 6, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    How I Made it to Eighteen.

    This book was just okay for me. I was really excited to read it, and it only took about an hour to finish. I was upset when it ended because I was wanting something more. I know this is a true story and all, but it just wasn't something I'd suggest to anyone.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 23, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Courtesy of Mother Daughter Book Club.com

    How I Made It to Eighteen by Tracy White says it's "mostly a true story." The book tells the experiences of Stacy Black and her journey from a breakdown through therapy and institutionalization and to the other side. It's a powerful story in a simple presentation.

    With words and images, we meet Stacy's friends, and we get to read their perspectives on her personality and her actions. We see notes about Stacy from the records at Golden Meadows hospital. And we hear the words of Stacy herself. The different perspectives combine to paint a picture of a girl who wasn't sure of who she was or how she could escape her problems with depression and bulimia.

    Although the topic is dark, the book is hopeful if only because you know Stacy makes it in the end. But her journey is an important component in how she eventually emerges from treatment and carries on with her life. I recommend How I Made It to Eighteen for mother-daughter book clubs with girls aged 15 and up.

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  • Posted June 27, 2010

    Glad she made it!

    I wish I'd had this book growing up. I would definitely have felt less alone. Tracy's book is a must read for everyone struggling to discover, become.and like themselves. Glad Tracy made it. Super glad she wrote and drew her story so that others fighting, as she did, might make it too.

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  • Posted June 25, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Share Stacy's Pain

    Stacy Black is seventeen years old when she puts her fist through her boyfriend's window and decides to check herself into Golden Meadows (restoring mental health since 1938). She doesn't intend to be there that long, but as the days stretch out, she realizes she is not quite well enough to be released yet. Stacy knows her time talking to the doctors and other patients is ultimately supposed to be helping her, but she just doesn't feel it yet. With the aid of fellow patient and friend Ashley, Stacy will have to learn to ask herself the hardest question of all: Why.

    First off, I think the simple drawing style will appeal to graphic novels fans and non-fans alike. Tracy White (cute name change to protect the author's poetic licensing) has a very raw and damaged voice that will speak to young adults with the same problems. I also thoroughly liked the faded gray past flash-backs- the ones that showed the reader what had happened to Stacy to make her what she is today. A quick read and short novel that will make a large impact on the reader, and will be a book they won't soon forget.

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    Posted November 16, 2010

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    Posted December 7, 2010

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    Posted July 7, 2010

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