5.0 2
by Mariko Tamaki

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"Skim" is Kimberly Keiko Cameron, a not-slim, would-be Wiccan goth who goes to a private girls' school in the early '90s. When her classmate Katie Matthews is dumped by her boyfriend, who then kills himself — possibly because he's (maybe) gay — the entire school goes into mourning overdrive. It's a weird time to fall in love, but that's what happens to


"Skim" is Kimberly Keiko Cameron, a not-slim, would-be Wiccan goth who goes to a private girls' school in the early '90s. When her classmate Katie Matthews is dumped by her boyfriend, who then kills himself — possibly because he's (maybe) gay — the entire school goes into mourning overdrive. It's a weird time to fall in love, but that's what happens to Skim when she starts meeting secretly with her neo-hippie English teacher, Ms. Archer. But then Ms. Archer abruptly leaves the school, and Skim has to cope with her confusion and isolation while her best friend, Lisa, tries to pull her into "real" life by setting up a hilarious double-date for the school's semi formal. Suicide, depression, love, homosexuality, crushes, cliques of popular, manipulative peers — the whole gamut of teen life is explored in this poignant glimpse into the heartache of being 16.

Editorial Reviews

Elizabeth Spires
The black and white pictures …create a nuanced, three-dimensional portrait of Skim, conveying a great deal of information often without the help of the text…Graphic novels, by the nature of their form, often use as little text as possible; the dialogue is sometimes hardly more than a serviceable vehicle to drive the action. In Skim, however, the spare dialogue is just right, capturing the cynical and biting way that Skim and her classmates tend to talk to one another…All in all, Skim offers a startlingly clear and painful view into adolescence for those of us who possess it only as a distant memory. It's a story that deepens with successive rereadings. But what will teenagers think? Maybe that they've found a bracingly honest story by a writer who seems to remember exactly what it was like to be 16 and in love for the first time.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

This auspicious graphic novel debut by cousins Mariko and Jillian Tamaki tells the story of "Skim," aka Kimberly Keiko Cameron, a goth girl in an all-girls school in Toronto, circa the early '90s. Skim is an articulate, angsty teenager, the classic outsider yearning for some form of acceptance. She begins a fanciful romance with her English teacher, Ms. Archer, while nursing her best friend through a period of mourning. The particulars of the story may not be its strong suit, though. It's Jillian's artwork that sets it apart from the coming-of-age pack. Jillian has a swooping, gorgeous pen line-expressive, vibrant and precise all at once. Her renderings of Skim and her friends, Skim alone or just the teenage environment in which the story is steeped are evocative and wondrous. Like Craig Thompson's Blankets, the inky art lifts the story into a more poetic, elegiac realm. It complements Mariko's fine ear for dialogue and the incidentals and events of adolescent life. Skimis an unusually strong graphic novel-rich in visuals and observations, and rewarding of repeated readings. (Feb.)

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Children's Literature - Kathie M. Josephs
This is a tough book to review, because teens should read it to understand that others feel like they do in high school, yet the language is really an XX. The novel is written using both dialogue between friends and entries in a diary. Kim and Lisa share almost everything and understand what the other is feeling. They argue, go to parties together, share secrets, and are both unhappy. Their lives in high school are anything but pleasant, and actually are on the dark side. The author does not soften the real life that kids face in schools today. A boy commits suicide because he is gay, and Kim tries to find herself in tarot cards and Wicca. Kim comes from a broken home and has to split her time between her mom and dad who has a new girl friend. A favorite teacher leaves for a different job and this affects the students. Lisa is afraid Kim is getting depressed, and she is afraid Kim will commit suicide. There was great insight in the writing, and I could feel the emotions come right off the pages. It is well written, yet not for every girl. Tough topics are covered. High schoolers may have their ups and downs, but a lot of laughter still occurs in classrooms today. It is not all dark the way this author portrays it. That being said, it is, nonetheless, an excellent book for students who lead troubled lives. Reviewer: Kathie M. Josephs
KLIATT - George Galuschak
Kim Cameron (Skim to everyone) wants to be a witch, but hasn't quite gotten the hang of it. She breaks her arm tripping over her altar; the Wicca ceremony in the park turns out to be an AA meeting; and when she and her best friend Lisa try to channel the spirit of Michael Reddear, the boy who killed himself, nothing happens. When Lisa asks what they would do if he appeared, Skim says—"nothing, I guess. Ignore him." Skim goes to a private high school for girls; ever since Michael Reddear died her classmates are obsessed with suicide. Skim's self card is the Lovers, reversed. She is in love with her teacher, Ms. Archer, who should know better. Skim is about being in a certain place in your life—friends come and go, falling in and out of love; being 16, and liking it. The narrative is first person, with diary entries, and manages to avoid the usual cliches; the characters don't line up to tell us their life stories. The b/w art is fluid and curvy and looks like it came straight out of a sketchbook. The little details are wonderful—the sun face on Ms. Archer's door; the Girls Celebrate Life bulletin board; Lisa tugging at Skim's jacket. Skim contains vulgarity (s and f-bombs), witches in training and tobacco use by minors. Highly recommended for high school graphic novel collections, especially those catering to girls. Reviewer: George Galuschak
School Library Journal

Gr 10 Up -Kimberly Keiko Cameron-aka "Skim"-is a mixed-race high school student struggling with identity, friendships, and romantic yearning. After her parentsa' divorce, she turns to tarot cards and Wicca to make sense of life but finds herself disappointed with the lack of answers they provide. She finds herself increasingly intrigued by Ms. Archer, her free-spirited English teacher. Her interest becomes obsessive and it begins to drive a wedge between her and her best friend, Lisa. Although Skim originally makes light of the half-hearted suicide attempts of popular Katie, whose ex-boyfriend committed suicide, the two of them begin to open up to one another. Skim soon realizes that "perfect" Katie is far funnier, more genuine, and more traumatized than she originally thought-particularly when it comes to light that John shot himself due to his homosexuality. Drawn in an expressive, fluid style and with realistic dialogue, this work accurately depicts the confusion of teenage years, with its rejection of previous identity and past relationships and search for a newer and truer identity; additionally, insider/outsider status is a reoccurring theme. Skima's internal monologue is diarylike, with an interesting use of "scratched-out" words. This is a good but somewhat standard work.-Dave Inabnitt, Brooklyn Public Library, NY

Kirkus Reviews
A quietly moving graphic novel explores a teen girl's experience with friends, suicide, cliques and love. Both overweight and of mixed ethnicities, Kimberly Keiko Cameron-also known as "Skim" because "she's not"-is slowly moving through high school with her best friend Lisa. Both sharply witty and incisive, the two girls dabble in various forms of self-expression and exploration, like dressing with Gothic flair and trying Wicca. The two girls come to an impasse when Lisa gets an unexpected chance to join the popular clique. Coupled with her tumultuous friendship, Skim also harbors a crush on a female teacher, which leads her to begin to question herself and her desires. Long, languid lines portray Skim's turmoil and angst with pitch-perfect resonance and show how, for teens, time seems to be so drawn out. While Tamaki's faces are sometimes unsettling, the reader has the distinct impression that they should be uncomfortable. Recommend this to fans of Daniel Clowes's Ghost World, who have been waiting for another graphic novel of teen angst and suburban ennui. (Graphic novel. YA)

Product Details

Groundwood Books
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.80(w) x 9.90(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

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Skim 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Winnndy More than 1 year ago
Skim is one of my favorite graphic novels at all time. The juxtaposition of Jillian Tamaki's extremely Japanese artistic sensibilities (the characters, especially Skim, resemble people from 19th-century Japanese woodblock prints) with the contemporary story and characters is jarring, but not in a bad way at all. And the storytelling is flawless. It captures the mundanity, confusion, and angst of a lonely teenager's life in a way I haven't seen anyone else manage to do. It's just a really, rally great piece of artwork and storytelling.
mylovelyastronaut More than 1 year ago
Skim is, first and foremost, about sexuality. Without delving too deeply into the plot I would like to say that this is the most sensitive, realistic portrayal of realizing identity I have ever read or seen, and it is, for me, the most relatable. Also the art is amazing--Jillian Tamaki's work reflects traditional Japanese block printing at times, and muromachi period brush painting at others.