Tina’s Mouth by Keshni Kashyap, ISBN: 9780618945191
Overview: Tina is a shrewd observer of high school culture, with its cliques and fashion obsessed shallow people. She’s recently been dumped by her best friend, Alex, so she has plenty of time to compose a journal to Jean-Paul Sartre as an English class assignment. In it, she’ll muse about her older brother and sister’s troubles with love, her embarrassing extended family, and the boy she likes but can’t seem to figure out. Tina writes with wit and just enough angst to make this a fun and enlightening read.
Critical Evaluation: There is not much new territory covered in this graphic novel, but it is still an enjoyable story. Tina’s issues are familiar, though they are seen through the lens of an Indian American family. So her brother and sister experience dating woes, just like anyone else, but they are mostly caused by their parents’ attempts to arrange a marriage. Or there is Tina’s breakdown of all of her aunts, from the gossiping ones, to the drunken aunt who hands out advice like, “Marry a European.” Even with familiar tropes, I like the way Tina thinks about things and infuses every situation with the snark and eye rolls so characteristic of teens.
Some reviews on Goodreads have complained about the drawings of the book. I had no issues with them and found that I thought they matched the text quite well. They are more basic, but this is a style common in many other illustrated novels, like Persepolis or from the children’s section, Diary of a Wimpy Kid. That the book is supposed to represent a teen’s journal lends even more credibility to the simplicity of the illustrations. That in itself is also very reminiscent of Daria, which I assume must be an influence on this novel.
Reader’s Annotation: Tina contemplates high school, her embarrassing family, and why she can’t understand boys in a journal addressed to Jean-Paul Sartre. This may be one of the funniest class assignment you’ll read.
Information about the author: Keshni was born to Indian parents and raised in the San Francisco area. She studied literature at Berkeley and film at UCLA. She now lives and works in New York City.
“Tina’s Mouth” is her first novel. She is primarily known as a filmmaker. She also contributes frequently to “The Daily Beast” website.
Genre: Graphic Novel, Humor, Realistic Fiction
Curriculum ties, if any: Tina creates this journal for his English honors class assignment on existentialism, so this could be a fun way to talk about existentialism and Jean-Paul Sartre.
Booktalking Ideas: Tina is very reminiscent of Daria, and even though Daria was current when I was in high school, I think she remains popular in a cult sense. For those who hadn’t heard of Daria, I would emphasize how funny and snarky she is.
Reading Level/Interest Age: Tina is a sophomore in high school and deals with issues common to high school students. The expressed purpose of the book from Tina’s perspective is for an existentialism assignment, which I think will resonate more with older teens.
- Drug references
- Sexual references
- First, I would want to be familiar with the book. As I’ve read this book, I’d be aware of potential issues that could be challenged. In the case of a book I had not read, I would want to have access to reviews.
- Then I would put together a rationale for why this book is included in the collection. This rationale would include:
- Bibliographic Citation of the book.
- A description of who the book is best suited for.
- A summary of the book and applicable other information, such as biographical information about the author.
- My justification for including the book. This would include how it fits in with the selection policy and library mission statement, and include its educational significance if applicable or the impact it could have on readers.
- Copy of selection policy and library mission statement at my library.
- ALA Library Bill of Rights
- Good and bad reviews of the book
- Alternative works a student could read
- Reconsideration form if patron is not satisfied with rationale
- When talking to patron, I would listen to their concerns without getting on the defensive and attempt to sympathize with their concerns. In some cases, all an upset patron needs is to be able to vent and know that someone is listening to them.
- If needed, I would send the challenge up the chain of command.
This book meets the recreational needs of teens. I also think that the controversial elements included are commonplace in some teens’ lives, and deserve representation in the books that they read.
Why did you include this book? : It was recommended to me and seemed like it would provide another angle to my project. It also provides the perspective of a non-white teenager.
Keshni Kashyap author biography (2013). Goodreads. Retrieved from http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2867364.Keshni_Kashyap