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Tomboy: A Graphic Memoir

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Growing up, Liz Prince wasn't a girly girl, dressing in pink tutus or playing pretty princess like the other girls in her neighborhood. But she wasn't exactly one of the guys, either. She was somewhere in between. But with the forces of middle school, high school, parents, friendship, and romance pulling her this way and that, "the middle" wasn't exactly an easy place to Growing up, Liz Prince wasn't a girly girl, dressing in pink tutus or playing pretty princess like the other girls in her neighborhood. But she wasn't exactly one of the guys, either. She was somewhere in between. But with the forces of middle school, high school, parents, friendship, and romance pulling her this way and that, "the middle" wasn't exactly an easy place to be. Tomboy follows award-winning author and artist Liz Prince through her early years and explores--with humor, honesty, and poignancy--what it means to "be a girl."


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Growing up, Liz Prince wasn't a girly girl, dressing in pink tutus or playing pretty princess like the other girls in her neighborhood. But she wasn't exactly one of the guys, either. She was somewhere in between. But with the forces of middle school, high school, parents, friendship, and romance pulling her this way and that, "the middle" wasn't exactly an easy place to Growing up, Liz Prince wasn't a girly girl, dressing in pink tutus or playing pretty princess like the other girls in her neighborhood. But she wasn't exactly one of the guys, either. She was somewhere in between. But with the forces of middle school, high school, parents, friendship, and romance pulling her this way and that, "the middle" wasn't exactly an easy place to be. Tomboy follows award-winning author and artist Liz Prince through her early years and explores--with humor, honesty, and poignancy--what it means to "be a girl."

30 review for Tomboy: A Graphic Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    Hello! I'm an fairly biased reviewer, because I wrote this book, but I figured I'd throw my 2 cents in anyhow. I learned a lot from writing this memoir, which is my first full-length narrative graphic novel. It was a challenge to write a book that spans the first 18 years of my life in a way that is succinct, engaging, and entertaining, without being overly redundant or narcissistic (I reserved my narcissism for the glowing review I'm giving myself here). Most importantly though, it was Hello! I'm an fairly biased reviewer, because I wrote this book, but I figured I'd throw my 2 cents in anyhow. I learned a lot from writing this memoir, which is my first full-length narrative graphic novel. It was a challenge to write a book that spans the first 18 years of my life in a way that is succinct, engaging, and entertaining, without being overly redundant or narcissistic (I reserved my narcissism for the glowing review I'm giving myself here). Most importantly though, it was challenging and important to write a book that has such a personal message (one that so many people of many ages and genders and sexual orientation have written to me about since this book came out). I feel really inspired by all of the stories that readers have told me about the Tomboys they know in their lives, or the ways in which they've felt like outsiders, or the ways in which they've never personally dealt with bullying, but really appreciated the way that I spoke about it. I've been able to communicate an idea that is really close to my heart, and I have had it be so well-recieved. When I started writing this book I was afraid that it wouldn't say the things I wanted to say, or that nobody would relate to it, or that it just wasn't worth writing, but I proved myself wrong, and that in and of itself deserves 5 stars.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Emily May

    This may be a graphic novel, but it is also one of the most honest, refreshing, detailed and touching memoirs I have ever read. I have one slight complaint and it isn't really a complaint, more of a little suggestion as to how this could have been better - if a couple of the f-bombs had been removed and this became a book we could give to younger kids. Because, damn, in a world of pink glitter for girls and blue guns for boys, younger kids really do need a book like this. Tomboy is the tale of This may be a graphic novel, but it is also one of the most honest, refreshing, detailed and touching memoirs I have ever read. I have one slight complaint and it isn't really a complaint, more of a little suggestion as to how this could have been better - if a couple of the f-bombs had been removed and this became a book we could give to younger kids. Because, damn, in a world of pink glitter for girls and blue guns for boys, younger kids really do need a book like this. Tomboy is the tale of Liz Prince's childhood and adolescence. She understood from an early age that she didn't like all of the things people consider "girly" and much preferred boys' clothes and toys. As she grew older, she didn't want to dress in pretty skirts or conform to what was expected for her gender, she got crushes on boys but all of them wanted the "normal" girls. What is most interesting is the underlying discussion going on about what it means to be male or female. The book ultimately challenges the notion that there is only one way to be either and sees Liz going from a child who would rather be mistaken for a boy and claims to "hate girls", to someone who recognises that she is a woman and doesn't have to behave or dress in a certain way to prove that. It looks at conformity and non-conformity, bullying and growing up. It is, essentially, a coming-of-age tale told through the eyes of someone who doesn't want to grow up in the way everyone thinks she should. I really liked getting this perspective on gender expectations. I wasn't really a "tomboy" myself and the only close experience I have with this is through my brother who always wanted to play with dolls and do ballet dancing. In fact, before reading this, I always focused on the problems gendered clothing/behaviour has for boys. It's commonly known that it's easier for women to wear jeans and baseball caps than it is for a man to wear a dress and make-up... so I didn't fully appreciate the effect being a "tomboy" would have on a girl while growing up. Until now. Very enjoyable, funny and thought-provoking story. Blog | Leafmarks | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr

  3. 4 out of 5

    Raeleen Lemay

    GOOD STUFF. I'm glad I finally picked this up, nearly a year after I purchased it GOOD STUFF. I'm glad I finally picked this up, nearly a year after I purchased it 🙄

  4. 5 out of 5

    Whitney Atkinson

    I feel like this book waited a little too long to introduce the point/moral, because for the entire book Liz has really unhealthy thoughts and she discusses her hatred of women quite often, but never actually addresses that those thoughts were unhealthy until the last pages of the book. But overall I really really enjoyed this. I thought the narrative was funny and Liz's story is really worth getting to know, and the overall theme of accepting yourself & your gender is really great.

  5. 5 out of 5

    David Schaafsma

    7/21/17 Reread for my summer YA Graphic Novels class with a focus on girls and women, a memoir for tomboys of all ages (and those that make fun of them, too, I guess). I liked it even more this time around. 10/17/14 Liz Prince writes this memoir from her younger self's point of view, with her Jeffery Brownish artwork to match, which I like so much. I'm here to tell ya that this book is really good, and useful in the world to all those who have issues with their bodies, their gender identities, 7/21/17 Reread for my summer YA Graphic Novels class with a focus on girls and women, a memoir for tomboys of all ages (and those that make fun of them, too, I guess). I liked it even more this time around. 10/17/14 Liz Prince writes this memoir from her younger self's point of view, with her Jeffery Brownish artwork to match, which I like so much. I'm here to tell ya that this book is really good, and useful in the world to all those who have issues with their bodies, their gender identities, who maybe don't feel entirely comfortable being the gender they were born into, or a range of related issues covered by this concept of "Tomboy". So this book is both funny (self-deprecating) and painful (re: all the bullying) and through it, we get to like and understand Liz in all her honesty as we see her struggles as important and something lots of people probably go through. She draws in such a way to simply and quietly "draw" us in to the story. The point is that the style makes her and her story more relatable, and though this book seems to be mainly addressed to girls, women who went through similar journeys also will appreciate it. Great discussion starter. It's in part about finding the right clothes for you. . . and crushes and being mistaken for the opposite gender just because of the way you look. . . and sometimes taking that for a compliment. This is a book that is making a difference in the lives of a lot of girls. My sister was a tomboy, and so was my wife, my neighbor, and so on. This story can help those who are not tomboys understand the way tomboys might feel.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kelly (and the Book Boar)

    Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/ I was going to say “my apologies for this being long and rambly,” but I’m fairly certain 99.9999% of my reviews have become long and rambly so I’m no longer apologizing ; ) Strange little story . . . Tomboy popped up on my library recommendations as an option when I had to go on the waiting list for Gracefully Grayson. Why the library would recommend a book to me that had an even longer waiting list than the one I originally Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/ I was going to say “my apologies for this being long and rambly,” but I’m fairly certain 99.9999% of my reviews have become long and rambly so I’m no longer apologizing ; ) Strange little story . . . Tomboy popped up on my library recommendations as an option when I had to go on the waiting list for Gracefully Grayson. Why the library would recommend a book to me that had an even longer waiting list than the one I originally intended to request is beyond me. But anywho, I’m a sucker and put a hold on both books. Then I poked around Goodreads and found my friend Erica had already read and enjoyed this story (and wrote an actual review, very unlike the lack of substance and abundance of imagery you are soon to see in this review space). Weird thing is – Goodreads did the “you might like this” thing to Erica too. Those evil librarians, they conspire against us EVERYWHERE! BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA – I keeeeeeed, Erica, please don’t hurt me. So long story even longer, my turn finally came around and I picked up Tomboy with little to no expectations regarding whether I would enjoy it or not. Imagine my surprise when I absolutely LOVED it. Tomboy: A Graphic Memoir is just what claims it to be. This is the story of Liz Prince’s childhood as a tomboy. Liz isn’t gay, she isn’t trans, she just doesn’t like wearing dresses . . . and when you’re a kid that is something that can get you bullied . . . Kids are assholes. Liz’s story tells about how she dealt with bullies, ^Ha! negotiated the shark infested waters of puberty, changing friendships and first crushes, (Wayne’s World reference? CLASSIC!!!!) and eventually found a great group of people who accepted her for who she was. The story also includes some pretty awesome information regarding how much girls kick ass and to make sure to never sell yourself short . . . I loved this book. Almost as much as I love the fact that Liz Prince has written all about me for the Adventure Time comic book . . . Seriously – who doesn’t love Adventure Time???? BWAHAHAHAHAHA! The only downfall is I want every child in the universe to own this book, but it contains some F-bombs that not all parents will be comfortable letting their tweenage child see. If you don’t mind a “dropped bomb” or three, I highly recommend it for kids – be they the bully, the bullied, or the bystander. Even if you don’t want your kids to read it, you parents should read this one too and get a little refresher course about accepting your child for whoever and whatever they want to be. When you give your kid a little leeway when it comes to choosing his/her own path, you end up with an awesome result. Like a kid who can drink his Saturday morning chocolate milk out of an Iron Man goblet while rocking a Planet Comicon t-shirt . . . And participate in the Little League World Series Homerun Derby later that afternoon . . . That’s just super . . . man. (See what I did there? So clever sometimes.) Oh, and one more note to all you parents: It doesn’t hurt to let your own freak flag fly every once in a while too. Lead by example and encourage your kid to take the road less traveled ; )

  7. 5 out of 5

    Debbie "DJ"

    My first graphic novel. While I can't say this is the form I like to read in, it was a compelling look at gender. It has to take a lot of talent to write a memoir in such a way. In fact, this could have been my memoir, as I related to it so much. Liz Prince, while born a girl, does not fit into the typical "girl" stereotypes. Liz is a tomboy, who's first memory is that of hating dresses. She wants to wield a sword, not wear a Tierra. Yet, every Disney movie she sees, shows girls being rescued by My first graphic novel. While I can't say this is the form I like to read in, it was a compelling look at gender. It has to take a lot of talent to write a memoir in such a way. In fact, this could have been my memoir, as I related to it so much. Liz Prince, while born a girl, does not fit into the typical "girl" stereotypes. Liz is a tomboy, who's first memory is that of hating dresses. She wants to wield a sword, not wear a Tierra. Yet, every Disney movie she sees, shows girls being rescued by boys. She begins to realize just how much a girls identity is shaped by boys attitudes. She states, " Girls shunned me because I acted like a boy, boys shunned me for being a girl, regardless or not if I acted like one." Prince's memoir takes us to high school when girls are now judging other girls. Liz is not gay, but is often called so. She simply wants to be the person she is most comfortable being. I loved how this memoir showed one girl's courage to do just that. I sure wish I had the opportunity to read this while I was younger. I'm going to buy a copy for every grade school girl I know.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Raina

    I was at a party this weekend where one of the attendees was talking about this book. He said his 10-year-old daughter had just read it twice in 24 hours. She told him "This book is about me, dad!" I can't wait to read it. ---- Read it, loved it. Give it to kids who are into Raina Telgemeier, Roller Girl, Jimmy Gownley and El Deafo*, and are ready for more mature themes and content. You know how Victoria Jamieson shows her character working through identity and relationship issues? Here, Prince I was at a party this weekend where one of the attendees was talking about this book. He said his 10-year-old daughter had just read it twice in 24 hours. She told him "This book is about me, dad!" I can't wait to read it. ---- Read it, loved it. Give it to kids who are into Raina Telgemeier, Roller Girl, Jimmy Gownley and El Deafo*, and are ready for more mature themes and content. You know how Victoria Jamieson shows her character working through identity and relationship issues? Here, Prince GOES THERE. There are drawings of boobs in this book (in the context of Liz going to sex ed). She talks explicitly about embracing herself as she is (a straight ciswoman, who doesn't do femme). She talks about navigating the drama of secondary education in that identity. Part of me feels like this would be better if it was more fully produced, in color, like those other books on the same tack. Another part feels like the simple, black and white, line drawing aesthetic makes the reader feel closer to the writer - as though we're reading her personal sketchbook over her shoulder. I promoted this to my Pizza & Paperbacks teen book discussion group, and at least one of the kids read and enjoyed it. I'm so glad it exists! *Man, I'm almost getting tired of trotting out that list every other review. ;)

  9. 5 out of 5

    Deborah Markus

    The short review: AWWW, YEAH!!!! WOOHOO! SRSLY! I HAZ A HAPPINESS! Slightly more detail: How do I love thee, Liz Prince? Let me count the ways: Your drawing is deeply appealing – the kind of deceptively casual-looking art that clearly takes a lot of thought. Your writing flows with seemingly effortless ease. Your dialogue is utterly authentic. Your story includes all kinds of wonderful detail, but never meanders. You let me know that I wasn't the only one who grew up with that creepy "Bloody Mary in the The short review: AWWW, YEAH!!!! WOOHOO! SRSLY! I HAZ A HAPPINESS! Slightly more detail: How do I love thee, Liz Prince? Let me count the ways: Your drawing is deeply appealing – the kind of deceptively casual-looking art that clearly takes a lot of thought. Your writing flows with seemingly effortless ease. Your dialogue is utterly authentic. Your story includes all kinds of wonderful detail, but never meanders. You let me know that I wasn't the only one who grew up with that creepy "Bloody Mary in the mirror" urban legend that terrified me all through my childhood but especially during power outages. You made me laugh hard enough to have to apologize to the neighbors with the "You're under ARREST!" "And on FIRE!" page. And after your funny, thoughtful, glued-me-to-my-seat telling of a story I could relate to in so many ways, you made me tear up and cheer out loud on what I thought was the last page of that story, and then crack up and cheer out loud on the last page of a wonderfully unexpected epilogue. Two "YES!" moments in two pages. Five stars. All my love, and please write another book soon.

  10. 4 out of 5

    First Second Books

    I read TOMBOY and adored it. It's a very smart and immediate portrait of adolescence - a book I wish I had had when I was 14.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sesana

    What does it mean to be a girl, or a young woman? What's feminine? And what value does that ideal of femininity have? That's really what Tomboy is about. Society tells girls that there's only one way to be a girl- and that girlishness is inherently worth less than boyishness. Liz Prince internalized those messages and took them very seriously. And since she didn't fit the images of "girl" that she saw around her, and since she bought that being a boy was better than being a girl... Well, you can What does it mean to be a girl, or a young woman? What's feminine? And what value does that ideal of femininity have? That's really what Tomboy is about. Society tells girls that there's only one way to be a girl- and that girlishness is inherently worth less than boyishness. Liz Prince internalized those messages and took them very seriously. And since she didn't fit the images of "girl" that she saw around her, and since she bought that being a boy was better than being a girl... Well, you can see where this is going. Yes, Liz does eventually come to the realization that being girly is not objectively of any less value than being boyish, and that girly and boyish are entirely subjective categories. Sounds self-evident, but it really isn't, not when you're living it. This isn't a preachy tome, by any means. But it's honest, and there will be any number of girls who can see themselves in Liz's experience. Including me. I was never as much of a "tomboy" as Liz, it's true. But I was interested in "boy" toys, "boy" shows, etc. I still am, to a certain extent. So I identify with Liz's discovery that being a girl is what she makes of it. As a memoir, it is kind of narrow, and it will resonate most with those of us who get where Liz is coming from, or who are willing to get it.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jan Philipzig

    I have to admit that I was not all that keen on reading this graphic novel, and I probably would not have bothered if it wasn't for all the praise it has received here at GR. While I am all for tearing down gender norms, I was worried that a story devoted specifically to this topic and targeted primarily at younger readers would necessarily be a little simplistic and predictable, possibly preachy. And in part, that is indeed the case, as the story - from an adult perspective, at least - I have to admit that I was not all that keen on reading this graphic novel, and I probably would not have bothered if it wasn't for all the praise it has received here at GR. While I am all for tearing down gender norms, I was worried that a story devoted specifically to this topic and targeted primarily at younger readers would necessarily be a little simplistic and predictable, possibly preachy. And in part, that is indeed the case, as the story - from an adult perspective, at least - occasionally does feel a bit formulaic in its attempt to promote its very laudable message. The more I read, though, the more the story drew me in with its many well-observed moments of awkwardness and humiliation that most of us remember from our own childhood and youth, whether we experienced them in the context of gender or in that of other socialization processes we were forced to endure. These insightful details really bring the story to life, and before you know it you find yourself cheering for the protagonist!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Amy Rae

    Ugh. Look, I feel for Liz Prince. Nobody should be bullied, and they especially shouldn't be bullied for the fact that they don't conform to society's expectations of what a man or woman should be. But the message in this book feels shallow to me: there's 237 pages about how being traditionally feminine sucks, and then about three pages where she realizes "wait, maybe there are lots of ways to be a girl, and my way is completely valid," and then it winds down into a happily-ever-after. There's Ugh. Look, I feel for Liz Prince. Nobody should be bullied, and they especially shouldn't be bullied for the fact that they don't conform to society's expectations of what a man or woman should be. But the message in this book feels shallow to me: there's 237 pages about how being traditionally feminine sucks, and then about three pages where she realizes "wait, maybe there are lots of ways to be a girl, and my way is completely valid," and then it winds down into a happily-ever-after. There's never a moment where she considers that maybe the real problem isn't that being a tomboy is hard, it's that being a girl is hard. She never shows much empathy for girls who aren't like her, which is kind of ironic when this book appears to be a plea for understanding. To the contrary, she really shits on the traditionally feminine girls around her--I really don't know how else to describe scenes like the one where she imagines going back in time and accosting a child half her age for failing to meet her own Standards For Being A Tomboy. Turnabout is not fair play with a subject like this; validating different ways of being female shouldn't be a zero-sum game. And there's never a point where she realizes that maybe the problem with being constantly mistaken for a lesbian isn't that it's inherently embarrassing or unpleasant to be a lesbian, but that society's homophobia makes people use "lesbian" as an insult. It's notable that her less negative references to homosexuality are all related to gay men somehow. There's a panel pretty early on in which all the kids on the playground are obsessed with the opposite sex, and it includes a boy saying "girls" and thinking "boys," and there's a moment late in the book where Liz and a male friend are (maybe) mistaken for a gay male couple, and she thinks that it's homophobic. There are no similar instances involving lesbians or bisexual women; being a woman attracted to other women is only ever depicted as the basis for an insult. Being a butch lesbian is a stereotype to be plagued by, not a valid identity other women hold as strongly as Liz does her tomboy nature. In the interest of fair reporting, here's my bias: I've never been a tomboy. In fact, I'm writing this review while wearing a bright pink dress. I was the kind of kid Liz Prince would have thought of as a ~fake tomboy~; while I loved Hot Wheels and tee-ball, I also loved dresses and nail polish and sewing and pretending to be a fairy in my backyard. (The really illuminating story from my childhood is the fact that I asked for an ironing board for my birthday when I was two. I've always been a Sansa at heart, never an Arya, even if I dressed a lot like Liz during the 90s.) And like Liz, figuring out what kind of girl I wanted to be was hard, but it was hard from the opposite end. For instance, it took until very recently for me to let myself really learn to experiment with makeup--while I've always loved the idea of it, it took until I was almost twenty-eight to truly let myself have it for myself without worrying what other people might think if they saw me with colour on my eyes or lips. I felt pushed towards being less traditionally feminine, just as Liz felt pushed towards being more. I don't expect every book to be for me, but if a book is all about learning how there are many ways to be a girl, then I don't really appreciate when it spends hundreds of pages talking about how my own Way To Be A Girl sucks and never really makes up for it later. The art in this book is lackluster; my roommate described it as looking kid-like to cover up for the fact that it's not very good, and I'm inclined to agree. I generally enjoy black-and-white graphic novels more than full-colour ones, but here, I think some colour would have improved the visuals a little (though it wouldn't do much for the uninspiring style and its haplessly wonky anatomy). But mostly, my problem is the content. The world needs media where all kinds of girls are represented positively, whether they want to greet society in tutus and tights or fatigues and baseball caps--or both. Liz Prince adds a tomboy or two to the world, but she falls into the same old trap of putting types of girlhood on a hierarchy.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Erica

    Because I recently read An Age of License: A Travelogue and In Real Life, Goodreads has been hinting that I would probably like Tomboy. Fate conspired to test that theory when this book came across my desk today. Because Goodreads doesn't quite understand the content in reviews, it didn't understand that maybe I wouldn't like Tomboy based upon what I said about those other two books. In this case, I am happy that GR doesn't have artificial intelligence yet because it was right - I enjoyed this Because I recently read An Age of License: A Travelogue and In Real Life, Goodreads has been hinting that I would probably like Tomboy. Fate conspired to test that theory when this book came across my desk today. Because Goodreads doesn't quite understand the content in reviews, it didn't understand that maybe I wouldn't like Tomboy based upon what I said about those other two books. In this case, I am happy that GR doesn't have artificial intelligence yet because it was right - I enjoyed this book. I think this story will strike a chord with anyone who doesn't/didn't fit in during elementary through secondary school years (that's pretty much everyone, right? Because even those who did fit in didn't feel like they really fit in but more that they were just faking it for making it, right?) I identified strongly with Ms. Prince's plight to establish herself as a girl without the frilly trappings of effeminance. I felt especially sad for her having to go through her early struggle in the middle of the '80's when the girl/boy separatism exploded as marketing groups realized they could make ten billion more dollars if they aimed clothing, toys, books, movies, cereal, etc at individual genders and not at kids, in general. I'm sure it was very difficult to stand in the face of consumerism and shout, "I will NOT wear your flower-patterned leggings with a matching dress!" It was easier ten years earlier. There were girl things and boy things but there were a larger amount of just kid things. A girl could wear a red, green, and brown striped shirt with orange corduroys, just like a boy. A boy could play with a Raggedy Andy doll just like a girl. The '80's changed that landscape and the kids who had to navigate the extreme gender conformity are going to be jacked-up forever, I'm sure. I'm basing this opinion on nothing whatsoever and am basically making random, unsupported statements, just so you know. So this story winds up being less about gender identity, despite what it says on the back cover as well as the Library of Congress subject heading, and more about inculturated gender norms in American society. I say this because while Liz wishes she were a boy, she wants the power of privilege, not necessarily the penis. She is a girl, she knows she's a girl, she's fine being a girl, she just doesn't want to have to adhere to the Rules of Girls, i.e. makeup, pink everything, cattiness, kittens, glitter, dresses, etc. She wants to be comfortable as a girl of her choosing and if she can't do that, then she wants to be a boy because they get more choices. I thought she illustrated (literally and figuratively) this point well, realizing, with the help of those who have some wisdom, that it's not her gender she questions, but the insidious, pervasive beliefs surrounding the identity of her gender, if that makes sense. I'm glad she eventually found her tribe. It's something we all strive to do else we end up as loners and while some of us thrive on our own, most of us need at least one other human with whom to share the burdens and joys of life. Rock your jeans and t-shirts, Liz. You can be a kick-ass girl without being girly. You can also be girly and be kick-ass. There really are no rules, especially after you realize that the rules were all fake in the first place.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sue Moro

    Tomboy is a graphic memoir written by Liz Prince, an autobiographical cartoonist, about her life growing up as a tomboy. She describes her total hatred of wearing girl's clothes, particularly dresses, and then goes on to defining what a tomboy is and what her life has been like being one. Through her wonderful cartoons she shows how she struggled to find her place in a society that expected people to follow specific "rules of gender". She resented the fact that boys were allowed more options Tomboy is a graphic memoir written by Liz Prince, an autobiographical cartoonist, about her life growing up as a tomboy. She describes her total hatred of wearing girl's clothes, particularly dresses, and then goes on to defining what a tomboy is and what her life has been like being one. Through her wonderful cartoons she shows how she struggled to find her place in a society that expected people to follow specific "rules of gender". She resented the fact that boys were allowed more options than girls. They were "celebrated because of their personality and talents, regardless of how they looked, while a girl was usually only popular if she looked good". Despite this Liz insisted on wearing boy's clothes, a red baseball cap, and had her hair cut short. She was plagued by bullies and those who called her a lesbian despite the fact that she wasn't dressing the way she did to attract girls but rather because it just felt natural to her. Throughout the book we sense her feelings of alienation, loneliness and worry that she will never find a friend or a boyfriend that will except her for who she truly is. Words alone cannot express how much this book resonated with me. From the moment I saw the book pop up in my Goodreads recommendation page I knew I had to have a copy. This book could have been written about me. I grew up hating dresses (still do) because I feel like a boy wearing a dress. Frequently called sir, I learned to just ignore it. I don't feel like a girl and yet I don't feel like a boy either. I wear boy's clothes and cut my hair short because that feels natural to me. Like Liz, I don't dress that way to attract women. I've never been attracted to women. I had great friends growing up, but never a boyfriend. I was occasionally teased because of the way I dressed. I refused to go to Catholic school because, unlike Liz, I KNEW the dress code and didn't want to be forced to wear a dress. When I read Tomboy, for the first time in my life I found myself reflected within the pages of a book. (For Liz, she found herself reflected in a book called Definition). I still buy all of my clothes in the men's department and, like Liz, I'm still a tomboy. Oh, and I also draw cartoons featuring myself and my friends and co-workers and I've often drawn my character wearing a red baseball cap too! I was captivated by Liz's story. The art work was wonderfully simplistic and conveyed her struggles with societies gender constraints. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has dealt with similar struggles and to anyone looking for a captivating graphic memoir. I will be looking forward to reading more of Ms. Prince's work.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jenna

    There are so many great graphic memoirs lately. This one is not my absolute favorite in terms of illustration style (it is more like a zine than an art book - though I think this heightens its accessibility and broadens its audience). But, it is a favorite in terms of mission and message. It provides young readers (or readers of any age) a great introduction to thinking critically about gender roles and expectations. It delivers an empowering message about being true to oneself and changing There are so many great graphic memoirs lately. This one is not my absolute favorite in terms of illustration style (it is more like a zine than an art book - though I think this heightens its accessibility and broadens its audience). But, it is a favorite in terms of mission and message. It provides young readers (or readers of any age) a great introduction to thinking critically about gender roles and expectations. It delivers an empowering message about being true to oneself and changing culture slowly by maintaining one's individualism and finding a community of supportive friends and mentors who appreciate that individualism. However, it also remains honest about how challenging this process can be, especially for a young woman transitioning from childhood to adolescence and experiencing compounded bullying and self-doubt along with the typical anguish and confusion of growing up. I'd stock this in any library or school or community center. It would also make a great gift.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Shira

    I really enjoyed and related to this book. A couple quick thoughts/comments: -There is one really brutal/scary potentially triggering scene that seems like it might result in a sexual assault (it doesn't, but keep this in mind when you recommend it to folks). -The moral of the story is great: girls can be however they want to be. Being boyish doesn't make you not a girl. -That said, I kind of wish Liz had addressed that for some of us who feel like boys, learning that we're boyish girls isn't I really enjoyed and related to this book. A couple quick thoughts/comments: -There is one really brutal/scary potentially triggering scene that seems like it might result in a sexual assault (it doesn't, but keep this in mind when you recommend it to folks). -The moral of the story is great: girls can be however they want to be. Being boyish doesn't make you not a girl. -That said, I kind of wish Liz had addressed that for some of us who feel like boys, learning that we're boyish girls isn't enough. Some of us really are boys, or gender nonconforming in other ways (and not just gender presentation nonconforming). All in all, I recommend this highly to pretty much anyone who has grappled with being an outcast, being bullied, feeling that societal expectations don't work for them, etc. etc.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Stuti (Turmeric isn't your friend. It will fly your ship

    Tomboy has been a recurring word throughout my childhood at school and occasionally, I hear it these days in connection with myself for reasons I cannot discern. I think it's a stupid term. I think it's a stupid classification and quantification and label but the world doesn't seem to agree. I think it forces down restrictions even/especially upon wayward souls who don't conform to traditional roles. I think a lot and my history teacher says I shouldn't. Course, he also says that that's what my Tomboy has been a recurring word throughout my childhood at school and occasionally, I hear it these days in connection with myself for reasons I cannot discern. I think it's a stupid term. I think it's a stupid classification and quantification and label but the world doesn't seem to agree. I think it forces down restrictions even/especially upon wayward souls who don't conform to traditional roles. I think a lot and my history teacher says I shouldn't. Course, he also says that that's what my handwriting tells him so I take his words with a grain of salt. Tomboy: A Graphic Memoir didn't open up endless possibilities or doors for me(they already were 'cause I'm awesome) but it did provide an insight into the life of a "true" Tomboy. Partly hilarious, moving, enraging, it was a look into the life of a girl bullied and rejected by the majority for her preferences in clothing and shit. Not to say that's all there is: we get to know about her boyfriends, best friends, her loneliness and how she found a place for herself, saw biases and prejudices in her opinions while she cursed the world for the same and me likey! Yay for this book! Someone seems to get that not every story has to be about a tomboy who blooms into her full potential as a heartbreaker with the help of a sexy, omniscient best friend or aunt. Seriously. Plus I think it'll be a wonderful, inspiring and insightful tale for girls with broken legs from soccer who are being asked silently, judgmentally to give it up; and boys who want admire Elsa but are too afraid to advocate their devotion. 'Cause dude, girls are NOT sugar and spice and everything nice, and boys will NOT be boys by your definition. Review copy provided by the publishers.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kaethe Douglas

    There has been rather a lot of attention to the particular problems of transgender children lately: news accounts of parents being supportive and being so violently opposed to their child's identity that suicide becomes the only option. Prince's story is set at the edge of those: as a girl she hated wearing skirts or dresses with the fiery passion of a billion suns going supernova. Although she didn't want to dress like a girl, or adopt obvious clues to femininity like long hair, she wasn't a There has been rather a lot of attention to the particular problems of transgender children lately: news accounts of parents being supportive and being so violently opposed to their child's identity that suicide becomes the only option. Prince's story is set at the edge of those: as a girl she hated wearing skirts or dresses with the fiery passion of a billion suns going supernova. Although she didn't want to dress like a girl, or adopt obvious clues to femininity like long hair, she wasn't a boy, either. This book is about how she copes with society's expectations and her own inclinations, figuring out her romantic inclinations, finding her way through school and life, and finding the people she felt most comfortable with. It's a great story, amusingly told. And although Prince's sartorial choices are uniquely specific, the theme is as universal as they come. Particularly recommended for middle school students who are under the worst pressure to conform to norms. Hee, I should mention that the author blurb is particularly brilliant. Library copy

  20. 5 out of 5

    CaseyTheCanadianLesbrarian

    Well, this was underwhelming and surprisingly unnuanced. I think readers who are being introduced to the concept of oppressive gender norms (ie, lots of straight cis dudes and some striaght cis women, some young people) could get a lot out of this, but for me it just couldn't hold my attention. It is written for a YA audience, after all, so this kind of makes sense, although that doesn't really give teens enough credit, I think. The denouement, where she realizes that conflating girls with Well, this was underwhelming and surprisingly unnuanced. I think readers who are being introduced to the concept of oppressive gender norms (ie, lots of straight cis dudes and some striaght cis women, some young people) could get a lot out of this, but for me it just couldn't hold my attention. It is written for a YA audience, after all, so this kind of makes sense, although that doesn't really give teens enough credit, I think. The denouement, where she realizes that conflating girls with weakness and thinking femininity is inferior was wrong, felt rushed and like too little, too late. Too much of the book expresses those kinds of opinions without questioning them, which I think is dangerous for young people reading without a critical eye. So I'm not sure I'd even recommend it as an intro for young people. Also. I thought queer and trans issues were handled pretty poorly. I found it odd that she doesn't even mention the idea of being trans, despite the fact that she writes a lot about not wanting to go through female puberty and about identifying with boys. Obviously she's not trans, which makes this an interesting story of gender non-conformity, but it still felt like a weird omission. And the only time queer women come up is really poorly handled. Prince writes that unlike lesbians she doesn't "dress like a boy to attract girls" but instead does it because it feels "natural" to her. Ugh, what a mess of misinformation and ignorance that actually contradicts her own message that gender expression and sexual orientation are separate (she's quite clear she's straight even though she's a tomboy)!! Pretty sure masculine queer women dress the way they do for the same reason Liz Prince does: because they like it. There are a ton of stupid assumptions in that statement, like queer women aren't attracted to femmes, can't be femmes, queer women don't have authentic gender identities/expressions except ones related to "attracting girls." I really loved Prince's Will You Still Love Me If I Wet the Bed?, a short, adorable comic about the small, silly moments that make up an intimate relationship, which makes Tomboy even more disappointing.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Erika

    I wish this existed when I was a kid. It's not preachy or anything, it's just the story of Luz Prince's childhood as a tomboy. Kids made fun of her but it isn't about bullying. Important people in her life accepted her as is but it's not about that either. It's about getting to play Ghostbusters with the next door neighbor and baseball with her brother and carry around a Popple AND a leather briefcase because it's fun and it's who she is and that's that.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Iris P

    Tomboy: A Graphic Memoir Tomboy is a witty, funny and thought-provoking graphic memoir written and illustrated by Liz Prince. From the time she was a toddler, Liz knew she wasn't a "girly-girl" and as soon as she was able to, she let her parents know that dresses and other conventional forms of girl's apparel were not acceptable to her. Liz was not interested in dolls, tiaras or anything else little girls were supposed to be into. She's definitely more comfortable in "boys clothes", loved comic Tomboy: A Graphic Memoir Tomboy is a witty, funny and thought-provoking graphic memoir written and illustrated by Liz Prince. From the time she was a toddler, Liz knew she wasn't a "girly-girl" and as soon as she was able to, she let her parents know that dresses and other conventional forms of girl's apparel were not acceptable to her. Liz was not interested in dolls, tiaras or anything else little girls were supposed to be into. She's definitely more comfortable in "boys clothes", loved comic books, video games and sports. At the beginning these "quirks' were not big deal but as she grew older and gender roles became more explicitly defined, it was clear to Liz that she was not fulfilling these expectations and her peers were not shy to let her know that something was wrong with her. The novels takes you along as Liz navigates the trouble waters of middle & high school. She develops self-esteem issues and finds difficult to find friends, boys or girls, that understand and accept her. Things get even more complicated when boys, dating and drama are thrown in the mix. Eventually Liz starts finding her own identity and over time comes to realize that she doesn't hate being a girl, she has simply revolted against the narrow definition society holds about what it means being one. When she starts doing some volunteer work for a place called Warehouse 21, Liz learns more about gender politics, girl culture and sexism. Reading "Tomboy" took me back to my youth as I was able to identify so much with this story. Growing up in the 70's in Latin America, the term "Tomboy" was not part of my vocabulary but I know that I definitely qualified as one. I am grateful to my mom as I now realized how much of a challenge I was to her. The poor woman had to endure so much criticism and gossip regarding her "peculiar" daughter!! "Tomboy" is a compelling and captivating memoir and with its simple illustrations it allows for the story to flow without too many distractions. Although the book is recommended for teens I would strongly suggest it only for kids 13 and older as the story contains some strong language and it touches on subjects such as drug use, puberty and sexuality in general.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth A

    As a girl who disliked dresses and often had shorts on underneath (who wants everyone to see your underwear when you do a cartwheel or hang upside down, am I right?), actively disliked anything pink, was not into dolls, and was your classic tomboy (oh how I hate that word), I would have loved this book as a kid. I so wanted to be a boy, and it took me many years to realize that what I really wanted was not to change genders, but to change gender roles and expectations. Yes, we've come a long way As a girl who disliked dresses and often had shorts on underneath (who wants everyone to see your underwear when you do a cartwheel or hang upside down, am I right?), actively disliked anything pink, was not into dolls, and was your classic tomboy (oh how I hate that word), I would have loved this book as a kid. I so wanted to be a boy, and it took me many years to realize that what I really wanted was not to change genders, but to change gender roles and expectations. Yes, we've come a long way baby - after all, we do have Skirts With Benefits (read built in shorts) available these days, but I still have nieces who are so angry that they are girls. "It's so not fair!", is a refrain that comes up often when I talk to them about the roles/rules/dress code that applies to girls as opposed to boys. I'm sure my Mom heard that same thing more times than she cares to remember. This graphic memoir is targeted at a teen/YA audience, and the author is honest and unflinching on her trip down memory lane. This would be a wonderful gift for all the little, and not so little tomboys in your life. And while you are at it, have the boys read it too.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    while i liked the art and the storytelling was good, i didn't really connect to the characters enough to actually feel anything.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Anne Jordan-Baker

    I would give this ten stars if I could, five from me and five from my 12-year-old daughter, who said after reading almost all of it on one sitting, "that's my life." Life changing for her to read about someone so like herself and in a book so artfully written and drawn.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Hannah Garden

    Do you love Liz Prince? No? Aw I am sorry your brains don't work that is a bummer.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Melanie Page

    You can now read my interview with author Liz Prince! She was gracious enough to take the time to answer my questions about being a comic artist and about Tomboy. Review originally published at Grab the Lapels. Please click the link to see the review with all the images. Thirty-one-year-old comic artist Liz Prince shares her history as a tomboy. She begins with her tantrum at age three when she didn’t want to wear a dress. All through elementary and middle school, Prince is tormented. No one wants You can now read my interview with author Liz Prince! She was gracious enough to take the time to answer my questions about being a comic artist and about Tomboy. Review originally published at Grab the Lapels. Please click the link to see the review with all the images. Thirty-one-year-old comic artist Liz Prince shares her history as a tomboy. She begins with her tantrum at age three when she didn’t want to wear a dress. All through elementary and middle school, Prince is tormented. No one wants to play with her, she hates all things girly, and classmates begin to question her sexuality. High school is a huge problem area until Prince finds a group of friends who are more open-minded. While the narrator (Prince at 31) could interrupt the narrative more regularly, Tomboy is a graphic memoir that will have readers nodding along in recognition as Prince analyzes what it means to be a tomboy in a society that tells men and women how to be from birth. For me, a good memoir is analytical. A few weeks ago, I reviewed Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir Fun Home and discovered that it was the most analytic memoir I’d ever read, in graphic form or otherwise. Whereas Bechdel is very much pulling apart her motives from an adult perspective, Prince’s story almost always sticks with her younger self’s point of view. For instance, Liz notices that heroes are always boys, and girls are always being rescued. When Liz draws a picture at school of her, Luke Skywalker, and her toy Popple, the teacher asks if she’s supposed to be Leia. Liz says, “I’m a JEDI.” After thinking about women who are saved by men–Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, and Repunzel–Liz Prince at age 32 pops in and adds, “So, it’s not that surprising that I would envy those born into boyhood.” Adult Liz, the one drawing the comic, interrupts her own story. It happens every so often; adult Liz shows up to add an explanation for or clarification of what child Liz is thinking. It’s almost in the style of Scott McCloud in his pivotal book, Understanding Comics. Prince analyzes her childhood in a way that will have readers nodding along in recognition. She explains the reasons why children make fun of each other. Again, she inserts her adult self: “Let’s take a timeout to review some of the reasons you can be made fun of in grade school. 1) Because you’re a girl who dresses like a boy. 2) Because you’re a girl who hangs out with boys. 3) Because you’re a girl. 4) Because you’re a girl who hangs out with girls. So yeah, you can get bullied for ANYTHING.” A little later, Prince realizes that most of the time, kids are repeating what they hear: “My daddy says you bring lunch from home because you’re poor.” A classmate presents his report: “…and that’s why a vote for George Bush makes the world a better place to live.” Then, little grade school-age Liz says, “We sometimes repeat things we’re told without really knowing what they mean.” In fact, adult comic artist Liz Prince makes her younger self say that, thus proving the point that children repeat. It’s hard to be a tomboy in the world. Girls are told not only how to dress, but assaulted with ideas about how to behave and what gives them value in society. People–both children and adults–reinforce these ideas about gender without question. As a child, Prince buys into gender norms, too, and doesn’t even realize. Boys are cool, so if she looks and acts like a boy, she’s cool. Girls are not cool. But what Prince doesn’t realize is how boys see a girl trying to be a boy. Tomboy is easy to relate to in a way that made me cringe. I think the camp was the most tragic passage in which many readers will see themselves. At Girl Scout camp, little Liz learns that it’s disgusting to shower naked, swim without a t-shirt, and change her clothes where others can see. The shame is heaped upon girls, perpetuated by other girls, who most likely learned from stupid comments said by parents (who most likely were criticizing other women) and weren’t aware that their children are always listening and impressionable. I remember girls in 7th grade humiliating their friend who got her first period and it leaked on her pants–they kept calling her “bloody butt.” I remember kids in 2nd grade tormenting a girl who picked food out of her teeth and swallowed it–and I was part of the tormenting crowd. We pick out the weak and humiliate them for reasons few of us fully understand. Playing sports becomes a point of humiliation that readers may recognize, too. Liz plays baseball on the boys’ team for a number of years because it’s her favorite sport. When the coach hands out cups one season, the boys decide Liz needs to wear a chest protector, thus ending her baseball career. Similarly, some girl friends of mine and I tried to play touch football in 7th and 8th grades, but the boys said things like, “Hut, hut, dyke!” and the coach would say nothing. We were run off because we didn’t feel safe from ridicule, even in the presence of an adult. If you’re about the same age as Liz Prince, you’ll easily relate to the pop culture references she includes. I felt thrown right back into some of the best parts of childhood when she mentioned Nintendo, Sega, Popple, Ghostbusters, and quotes from Wayne’s World. Heck, we even had the same Popple, which I thought was pretty cool and made me like Liz Prince even more. If you’re about 30 years old, you’ll have a good time traveling down nostalgia lane! One of the biggest ways Liz Prince lets you put yourself into her story and relate to her is through the drawing style. By now, you may have noticed that the pictures are simplistic, basically line drawings without color. In Scott McCloud’s image above, he explains that a very specific image means viewers only picture one person. The more simplistic the face becomes, the more we’re able to insert different people into that one drawing. So, when Liz Prince shows picture of mean girls or boys who are picking on her, they’re vague enough that readers can stick in their own bullies. I immediately remember specific names of kids in grade school whom I hated because Prince’s drawings are not overbearing. The one character you can always easily identify is Prince herself, mostly due to a strange hat she wears in every frame. If you read this book, you may find yourself experiencing some intense emotions you hoped you’d forgotten upon high school graduation. Yet, the analysis Liz Prince includes will help you think about why children were so cruel, perhaps why you were cruel, and that we all share a universal terrible time in grade school (even the popular kids are hiding something awful). Because Prince wisely makes use of a drawing style and narrative in which people will see themselves, Tomboy is a powerful memoir that will have you turning pages just to see if it gets better–for her, and perhaps even for you.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Mesho 👾

    This was so beautiful. I wish I could read it when I was a kid . This made so sense. Liz was me as a kid and still me as an adult trying to conform to society and gender stereotypes for what a girl should look and behave like . It was tomboy magic .

  29. 4 out of 5

    Caitlin

    I really wish I'd had this book when I was younger and for that reason I cannot recommend it highly enough for girls or boys who don't feel like they fit in. Even at 27 I still feel a weird disconnect from expectations for my gender. I love sports and videogames and have never had much interest in traditionally "female" areas like fashion or make-up. That's not to say that I now judge girls who do like them, just that that was never me. In the past, the expectations of others made me have a I really wish I'd had this book when I was younger and for that reason I cannot recommend it highly enough for girls or boys who don't feel like they fit in. Even at 27 I still feel a weird disconnect from expectations for my gender. I love sports and videogames and have never had much interest in traditionally "female" areas like fashion or make-up. That's not to say that I now judge girls who do like them, just that that was never me. In the past, the expectations of others made me have a violent dislike of anything that I perceived as "girly" in much the same way that Liz did. I remember my brother telling me that I couldn't like the color blue because blue was a boy's color and that I had to like pink. And of course because I am Ms.Contrary, I developed a violent hatred of pink that I still can't get over. :P It was both heartwarming and painful to see Liz go through the same experiences and to the point that she hated any sign of femininity, even from her own body. I thankfully never felt it to that point, I just never felt like I fit in. I love that this book is a denial of the traditional idea of gender roles and that it advocates for a more nuanced understanding without militant bashing of either side. There's absolutely no reason that a girl who likes videogames/sports/roughhousing or a boy who likes fashion or princesses is somehow some freak mix that must be avoided at all costs. Liz Prince treats this subject with humor and a gentle understanding and Tomboy was a joy to read from start to finish. If you are or were ever a tomboy or even just remember the struggle to fit in, this is definitely a must-read!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Zest Books

    [STARRED REVIEW] Kirkus Reviews "Prince explores what it means to be a tomboy in a magnificently evocative graphic memoir. From the age of 2, Liz knows she hates dresses. As a child, she wears boys clothes and plays with boys. However, as she enters her teen years, things change. Still wishing to dress like a boy and disdainful of all things girly—including the inevitable biology of puberty—she stays true to herself and her identity, but not without struggling to fit into a teenage society that [STARRED REVIEW] Kirkus Reviews "Prince explores what it means to be a tomboy in a magnificently evocative graphic memoir. From the age of 2, Liz knows she hates dresses. As a child, she wears boys clothes and plays with boys. However, as she enters her teen years, things change. Still wishing to dress like a boy and disdainful of all things girly—including the inevitable biology of puberty—she stays true to herself and her identity, but not without struggling to fit into a teenage society that neatly compartmentalizes how boys and girls should act. Liz's troubles are magnified as she navigates the ways of the heart, falling for boys who often pass her over for girls who are more feminine. As she stumbles and bumbles her way to friends who will accept her, she pulls readers along that oh-so tough and bumpy road of adolescence. Simple, line-based art provides a perfect complement to her keen narration, giving this an indie, intimate feel and leaving readers feeling like they really know her. Liz's story, captured with wry humor and a deft, visceral eye, is a must-read for fans who fell for Raina Telgemeier's work in middle school. Spectacular; a book to make anyone think seriously about society's preordained gender roles." (Graphic memoir. 14 & up) August 1, 2014 issue

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