A Mess of Everything by Miss Lasko-Gross

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A Mess of Everything
By Miss Lasko-Gross
Fantagraphics

misslaskogrossamesscoverAs the comics medium has flourished over the past decades, autobiographical (and semi-autobiographical) comics seem overdone—or are at least well on their way to being so. How many first-person stories about growing up do we really need? How different can they all really be? It’s hard to ignore such questions when picking up Miss Lasko-Gross’s second graphic novel, A Mess of Everything. The book, which is also number two in her semi-autobiographical trilogy, tells the tale of  Melissa, as she goes through high school. Admittedly, I wasn’t hugely excited by this prospect. I’ve read plenty of these types of books.

But A Mess of Everything surprised me. It turned out to be quite worthy: funny, insightful, and at times, moving. It’s not a revolutionary book—it doesn’t stretch or redefine the bounds of its genre—but Lasko-Gross reminded me that the beauty of her chosen genre is that everyone’s story is, in fact, different and unique. If the author is a skilled storyteller, it’s as good as a reason as any to read yet another graphic novel about growing up, even if you’ve already read many.

Let’s start with the title: It is perfect. When you’re a teenager, you pretty much always feel like you’ve made a mess of everything—or, even if it’s not your doing, like everything is a complete mess. Lasko-Gross hits the nail on the head with her title, which captures perfectly the angst that fills Melissa’s journey.

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