Friday, May 16, 2014

Little Fish: A Memoir of a Different Kind of Year by Ramsey Beyer | Book Review

Little Fish is an autobiographical memoir of the author's freshman year at college.  After growing up rather sheltered in a very small town in Michigan, Ramsey ventures all the way to the big city of Baltimore to attend art school.  After being a good-sized fish in a little pond, she now likens herself to a little fish in a big pond.  The book is in graphic novel format, with some zine style elements.  The author also includes excerpts from her actual journal from that year.

I really liked Little Fish, and I can definitely see myself recommending it to my teens at the library, especially the ones who are college-bound next year.  Ramsey's voice is very genuine throughout the book.  I'm not too far removed from college myself and I totally remember the whole feeling of missing home while away and then almost immediately missing college when you go home for breaks!  The book's format is another plus; it completely works for the message that is conveyed and the audience that it's geared toward.  It's a pretty quick and easy read for someone who has so much more on their mind:  what will my roommate be like?  Will my classes be too hard?  What if I don't like the cafeteria food?  

I've read plenty of reviews of Little Fish that gripe about the lack of character and plot development, but I have to disagree.  I think Ramsey shows lots of growth through the book, and I don't think there needs to be an earth-shattering moment of conflict to count as "plot."  It's a memoir, so it is what it is.  Yes, Ramsey's freshman year is little sedate, but that's ok.  And I think that's an ok message to get across.  You don't have to have nights of drunken debauchery or high-risk shenanigans to have an awesome freshman year of college.  You can just enjoy making new friends through roommates and classmates, and go out to dinner and concerts.  I think one of the sweetest moments in the book is when Ramsey is packing for college and she takes a stuffed bear, then wonders if her roommates will think she's weird.  I took a bear to college too!  I think lots of girls probably take a little memento of home/childhood to college with them.  I also really liked the addition of the zine style elements to some pages of the book.  Ramsey switches effortlessly and seamlessly between zine style and graphic novel style and it totally works, and makes this book stand out.

Overall:  4.5 of 5 stars!

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