Review

Tina's Mouth: An Existential Comic Diary

written by Keshni Kashyap, illustrated by Mari Araki

Tina M. is a sophomore at the Yarborough Academy taking a class on the lessons of philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre. Specifically, she’s learning a lot about existentialism, and it’s all just in time, since her social and school lives are somewhat falling apart.

"It might be a simple coming-of-age story, if coming of age could ever be thought of as simple. But because it reaches for so much more than that, it achieves so much more. It’s a bold and honest story with a ton of heart, and that’s what makes it so compulsively readable."

Tina has been best friends with one girl, Alex, her entire life. But as high school life moves on, so too do friendships, and when Alex gets a taste of what it’s like to be popular --- really popular --- a rift forms and the friendship fades. Tina, meanwhile, devotes herself to the craft of acting, taking part in a school play where, horror of horrors, she will receive her very first kiss --- if only it were with someone with better breath.

That isn’t, however, what the focus of TINA'S MOUTH is about. Her first kiss is important to her, but this is a book about so much more. Told in a series of letters that Tina writes to the long dead Sartre, TINA'S MOUTH is about life, plain and simple. It might be a simple coming-of-age story, if coming of age could ever be thought of as simple. But because it reaches for so much more than that, it achieves so much more. It’s a bold and honest story with a ton of heart, and that’s what makes it so compulsively readable.

Tina develops new friendships, meets boys, falls in love, gets her heart broken, endures the loss of a friendship, and so much more. That this story of life and love is based on some amazingly bold philosophies just makes it all the more special.

I loved this book and think it will resonate well not only with teenagers but also with adults.

Reviewed by John Hogan on March 10, 2012

Tina's Mouth: An Existential Comic Diary
written by Keshni Kashyap, illustrated by Mari Araki

  • Publication Date: January 3, 2012
  • Genres: Fiction, Graphic Novel, Young Adult 12+
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • ISBN-10: 0618945199
  • ISBN-13: 9780618945191