Be That Way

Holiday House. Oct. 2023. 272p. Tr $22.99. ISBN 9780823447619.
Gr 10 Up–Told in diary format, Be That Way presents themes of friendship, jealousy, and the impact of privilege. It’s 1996 and Christine is a high school senior focused on writing for her school’s paper and deciding where she should apply to college. Her dad died a few years ago and she’s still coping with the changes and grief that accompany losing a parent. Like typical teens, Christine and her gorgeous best friend, Landry, spend time going to parties, concerts, and the mall. Landry is consistently trying to “fix” Christine, whether it’s picking her outfits or introducing her to guys, and their relationship begins to break down. After an ugly scene at a big party, they end their friendship. Christine begins to find her own identity as she builds new relationships and focuses on art and her new job at the movie rental store. The epistolary-style text offers an array of teenage experiences and characters for readers to relate to. The illustration evolves on each spread and as Christine progresses through art class, the visuals mirror that, emphasizing the growth of her artistic prowess and development as a person. The charming, conversational tone will engage readers and the mature teenage content (alcohol and marijuana use, sexual references, and language) allows this journal a sense of authenticity. Overall, the roller-coaster of emotions and experiences presented in this semi-autobiographical book will help readers feel less alone during the tumultuous times of young adulthood.
VERDICT Readers will devour this quirky, slice-of-life graphic novel.

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