Mess of Everything

Overview

The second volume in this semi-autobiographical trilogy finds self-effacing non-conformist Melissa now in high school facing a drug habit, alienation, accidental heartbreak and other issues in an intense, honest, and funny memoir.A Mess of Everything is the second volume in Miss Lasko-Gross's semi-autobiographical trilogy, picking up where the first volume, Escape from "Special," left off: self-effacing non-conformist Melissa is now in high school, where the stakes are higher as she copes with an anxiety-induced ...

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Overview

The second volume in this semi-autobiographical trilogy finds self-effacing non-conformist Melissa now in high school facing a drug habit, alienation, accidental heartbreak and other issues in an intense, honest, and funny memoir.A Mess of Everything is the second volume in Miss Lasko-Gross's semi-autobiographical trilogy, picking up where the first volume, Escape from "Special," left off: self-effacing non-conformist Melissa is now in high school, where the stakes are higher as she copes with an anxiety-induced drug habit and an anorexic best friend. Melissa finds herself negotiating the kinds of everyday problems facing young adults today—such as alienating her friends with her uncomfortable honesty and accidentally breaking her best guy friend's heart. Eventually, her woes cause her to nearly flunk out of school, and by the end of the book Melissa faces the choice that we all do at some point: to take the risk and pursue her dreams or settle for a safer, more secure routine.
The unsentimental truthfulness that is the hallmark of Lasko-Gross's work is coupled with a raw but increasingly refined visual vocabulary. A Mess of Everything is an intense, honest, and funny memoir that holds appeal for anyone who is navigating, or who has ever grappled with, these issues. She expresses the awkward naiveté and inexperience of a young girl with the keen insights of a mature artist.

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Editorial Reviews

Chris Mautner - Robot 6
“[Miss Lasko-Gross] displays... subtlety and balance in her portrayal of her teen-age years... [I]n its portrayal of the importance and tenuous nature of teenage friendships, [A Mess of Everything] glows with sharp recognition.”
Tina Coleman - Booklist
“The stellar follow-up to Escape…the book feels more like an illustrated journal, capturing Melissa’s awkward emergence from her unique personal perspective. Spot-on about the late-teen experience while avoiding overly nostalgic feelings.”
Andrew Wheeler - ComicMix
“If you grew up ‘different’ you’ll find a lot that’s familiar in A Mess of Everything. Lasko-Gross is close enough to this material to keep it particular and distanced enough to see it is part of her past…a fine book from a very talented creator.”
Eden Miller - Comicsgirl
“Lasko-Gross’ art is appealing, with a fluid, elastic feel, giving her the freedom to present both realism and more abstract, emotional scenes. With a washed-out color palette that’s mostly grays with a few pops of color—Lasko-Gross’ red hair, a blue sky—the look works for a tale of adolescence, when everything felt a little bit darker than it should have.”
Zane Austin Grant - PopMatters
“Lasko-Gross brings us back to moments like those through her personal narrative, using a dark and biting humor that both self-deprecates and pokes fun at alterna-teens along the way.... The art pulls everything together wonderfully...and each section receives a beautiful splash page or panel with an embedded title to welcome you into the vignette. Her world closes in on you as complex webs emerge in the backgrounds of more frantic scenes.”
Bryan Munn - Sequential
“Lasko-Gross covers the usual Holden Caulfield territory with brevity and an eye for detail. Her cartooning is very expressive and the book is colored in subdued wash-like tones of brown, gray and blue that enhance the emotional impact of her cringe-worthy struggles for independence and individuality.”
Paul Constant - The Stranger
“Miss Lasko-Gross's autobiographical comics are the best in the field since [Lynda] Barry and Phoebe Gloeckner put pen to paper. A Mess of Everything is a collection of short (mostly two to three pages) cartoons about high school. All of Lasko-Gross's cartoons are told mostly in shades of gray and brown, and they're brief, unsentimental anecdotes about shoplifting, pointless rebellion, and boys who fall in love too easily.”
Kathleen Hanna
“A brutally honest look at suburban life from a bright new talent.”
Marc Sobel - Comic Book Galaxy
“Miss Lasko-Gross’s follow-up to Escape from "Special" is absolutely wonderful... a really excellent, funny, beautifully drawn autobiography of growing up in a very unconventional environment. Highly recommended!”
Adam McGovern - ComicCritique.Com
“Lasko-Gross creates the least wholesome and most healthy youth memoirs you’re likely to read. Tales of adolescent insight, creativity, trauma and folly for those who like to learn their lessons with minds of their own. [Ranked the #3 Graphic Novel of the Year]”
New York Magazine
“She writes about her own high-school years with affectionately brutal honesty.”
Richard Gher - The Village Voice
“Miss Lasko-Gross takes us into the skankiest basement make out sessions of our teenage despair…Her fictional stand-in figures out how to work the system and achieves redemption through beautifully ugly comics that aptly capture the darker hallucinogenic melodramas of teenage geekdom.”
Whitney Matheson - USA Today Pop Candy
“Miss [Lasko-Gross]' previous book, Escape from 'Special,' launched her fearless plan to produce an autobiographical trilogy. Mess tackles the high-school years, which involve mean girls, mean boys and plenty of awkward social situations. Each anecdote is super-short with cringeworthy dialogue that you'll identify with and will remind you of how fortunate you are to have lived through that rough period.”
Jillian Steinhauer - The Daily Cross Hatch
“A Mess of Everything surprised me. It turned out to be quite worthy: funny, insightful, and at times, moving. It’s not a revolutionary book—it doesn’t stretch or redefine the bounds of its genre—but Lasko-Gross reminded me that the beauty of her chosen genre is that everyone’s story is, in fact, different and unique. If the author is a skilled storyteller, it’s as good as a reason as any to read yet another graphic novel about growing up, even if you’ve already read many.”
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Lasko-Gross…measures up to the lofty standards set by Aline Kominsky-Crumb and Debbie Drechsler.”
Publishers Weekly

In this intense but humorous follow-up to Escape from "Special"Lasko-Gross's semi-alter ego must navigate the perils of high school life. Fifteen-year-old Melissa doesn't have a lot of friends and those she does have issues of their own: rebel Kylie is on the brink of another expulsion; Penny has a stutter and penchant for shoplifting; and Terry is a closet anorexic. The problems Melissa faces are common ones-rebel or not; get high... or higher; tell a boy how she feels-but Lasko-Gross handles each with care so that even readers who've gone through similar situations will be convinced that Melissa's woes are unique. As her grades plummet and her parents uncover her drug stash, Melissa becomes increasingly persuaded that life will never get better. It seems that her comic book, which she sells on consignment to local record stores, is the only thing keeping her going. With full-color art whose dour color palette mirrors the sometimes painful subject matter, Lasko-Gross seamlessly shifts between real conversations and the ones that exist only in Melissa's head, painting a complete portrait of her raw, emotional and bitingly sarcastic heroine, and leaving readers eager for the last installment of this planned trilogy. (May)

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School Library Journal
Gr 10 Up—The cruelties, indignities, rebellion, and lack of self-confidence that form the high school experiences of many teens are well captured in this follow-up to Escape from "Special" (Fantagraphics, 2007), the author's middle school memoir. At 15 and 16, Melissa's biggest downfall was that she couldn't control her honesty or soften her expressions of it, leading to messy situations in the classroom, with her friends and family, and, most important, her peace of mind. She uses her given name of Melissa Gross for her high school persona, and readers get to see her earliest efforts to sell her comics and also an explanation—filled with teenage righteousness—for her nom de plume. Imagery here is fraught with some nearly nightmarish (and succinctly credible from an adolescent perspective) exaggerations of tongues, acne, and even a turd. The artwork is done mostly in muted grays; blue and yellow highlight eyes or hair, and an occasional object also receives soft coloration. This is a spot-on portrait of one girl's struggle for intellectual and emotional honesty, touching on her best friend's anorexia and realizing the humanity of those around her—classmates, her mother—whom she had earlier dismissed as stock characters in the drama of her own life. More symbolic than Ariel Schrag's high school memoirs, this one will touch teens who themselves have just succeeded in negotiating the mess of learning to be a mature social being.—Francisca Goldsmith, Halifax Public Libraries, Nova Scotia
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781560979562
  • Publisher: Fantagraphics Books
  • Publication date: 4/30/2009
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 232
  • Product dimensions: 6.08 (w) x 9.02 (h) x 0.78 (d)

Meet the Author

Miss Lasko-Gross lives in Brooklyn, NY.

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