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tomboyLiz Prince
Zest Books

Liz Prince’s Tomboy is a graphic novel detailing the cartoonist’s formative years and her long coming out process…as a tomboy. The book first piqued my curiosity several months ago as I browsed through Previews for a reason that I’ll share below. It’s the sort of story with which any person who has struggled with trying to fit in and make friends all the while figuring out one’s identity and or being true to one’s self ought to relate. Prince engages the reader with humor, wit, charm, and unflinching honesty as she tells the story of her life from her earliest memories through high school.

The story begins by depicting one of Prince’s earliest memories when she, in the manner that most two year olds are known for when faced with something they don’t like, defiantly and quite vocally refused to wear a dress. Growing up can present challenges for any kid and as you might imagine the trials Prince faced were many. An enthusiastic love of baseball earns her a spot as the only girl on her Little League team but doesn’t prepare her for ridicule from her teammates. She’s often bullied for not being a “normal” girl and labelled as a “queer” and “lesbian” and even once mistaken as half a gay couple while riding a bus with her best Frankie. Liz’s response is pretty awesome! Regrettably, LGBT people can relate all too well to the experiences of being bullied and judgmental assumptions from strangers. What keeps this book from being doom and gloom is Prince’s goofy and offbeat nature and unflagging spirit as well as supportive parents and a few close friends and serendipitously a couple women acting as mentors. She is an underdog that you can’t help but like and cheer for as both a character in her story and a person.

The reason why Tomboy caught my attention some months ago is because my mother was also a self professed tomboy. Sadly my mother wasn’t much of a storyteller like Prince is. She hated dresses like Prince and frequently wore baseball caps. My mother was forbidden from the kitchen after my grandmother became incredibly frustrated trying to teach her to cook, which was just as well since my mother loved playing basketball and gave the boys her age a run for their money. Neither was she afraid to speak up. Despite being fairly non gender conforming, she still was forced by societal pressures of the times, unlike Prince who prevailed against everything that was put in her way. I suspect my mother would find a kindred spirit in Prince if they’d ever had the opportunity to meet. Certainly a story like this would’ve meant a great deal to her. Hopefully this book will mean a lot to other tomboys and anyone else in need of an encouraging message because they’re having a rough time trying to live by their own rules.

Please consider supporting your local bookstore or comic shop or purchase from Amazon using the following link.
Tomboy: A Graphic Memoir

March 7, 2015
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