Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Mash Day: Who Am I?

Yesterday I read an exceptionally satisfying graphic novel that was the inspiration for this week's mash-up. In Tina's Mouth, Southern California teenager Tina M. is assigned a journal project for her existentialism class. The journal she creates is a dialog with the existentialist philosopher Jean Paul Sartre. (Sartre, who said: Life has no meaning except the goals man sets for himself.) In order to find the answer to the very important question "who am I?", Tina discusses very important details and life questions with Jean: Her crush on a cute skater boy, her recent fight with her now ex-best friend, and the dating lives of her older brother and sister. Tina comes vividly to life, as a member of her family (I am an alien. But my parents are from India) and while negotiating her social trials and tribulations. This is a totally comic read, but it is not without substance.

If you are looking a much more thoroughly depressing book about existentialism, you could try Nothing, in which a boy drops out of middle school and spends his mornings in a tree, taunting his classmates that nothing matters. Bothered by this jeer, the classmates go to greater and greater extremes to prove him wrong. Let me tell you now that it does not end well. This book is not for the faint of heart. It's one of those reads that you can never undo. Seriously.

To mash it up a bit more literally, here are a couple of books about people trying to make sense of themselves in very concrete ways.

In Forgotten, London take copious amounts of notes each day to prepare for the fact that her memory will reset at 4:33 AM. Every night, it is the same. In addition, London has flash visions of the future, even while she can't remember the past.

In contrast, Baxter Green has a photographic memory of everything that has ever happened in his life. He still has feelings for a girl he hasn't seen since kindergarten. So, while Baxter and his mother are on the run from his mom's criminal ex-boyfriend, Baxter choses to go to the town where his kindergarten crush now lives.Unforgettable.

And in Daughter of Smoke and Bone, cool art kid Karou has a lingering feeling that there are aspects of herself that she doesn't know. Raised by chimaera (part animal, part human), Karou can't remember who her parents were. Perhaps the radiant, gorgeous, but eerily warrior-like winged angel that appears in her life can shed some light on her past. It's an addictive, enchanting read if you love fantastic worlds. But don't expect the story to end on the last page. This book is for people who appreciate a good series.

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