Author: Greene, Jarad
Eighth grade for Jay isn't going the way he had in mind. Not only is he dealing with severe acne and the side effects of the prescription for it, all of his friends are in different classes, his best friend, Brace, spends all his free time with his new band, and Jay doesn't understand why two of his classmates (a boy and a girl) have crushes on him when his feelings aren't mutual for either one. Eighth grade is tough, but everything will be a-okay ... right? In graphic novel format.
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Kirkus Reviews (10/01/21)
School Library Journal (11/01/21)
The Hornbook (00/11/21)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 11/01/2021 In this semifictional memoir, eighth-grader Jay Violet faces many of the common challenges that come with being a middle-schooler. Throughout the story, which takes place over a school year, Jay struggles with bullies, self-confidence, self-esteem, skin problems, and understanding his sexuality. He copes with the disappointment that comes with losing friends and the difficulty of finding new ones. It is a familiar story, similar in scope and approach to graphic memoirs like Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham's Real Friends (2017). But A-Okay stands out thanks to Greene's focus on the affect having a serious skin problem can have on the psyche and experiences of a young person. The story is littered with details about the many challenges Jay faces because of his acne-afflicted skin, and because Jay manages to overcome this challenge with the support of family, new friends, and a knowledgeable dermatologist, young readers struggling with this issue might find some encouragement in its pages. Supported by expressive, well-drawn, and colorful illustrations, this compelling graphic novel will appeal to fans of middle-grade graphic memoirs. - Copyright 2021 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 11/01/2021 Gr 5 Up—Greene chronicles the often bumpy road to self-discovery that's triggered by puberty. As Jay, a kind but anxious eighth grader, grows intensely aware of his appearance, specifically his acne, he decides to try Accutane, an intense, sustained oral treatment that requires him to take responsibility for his own health. At school, he watches friendships dissolve and builds new ones, encounters obnoxious bullies, and explores his artistic interests. His classmates date and deal with crushes, but Jay realizes, to his initial confusion, that he's not particularly attracted to any of his peers. As the year goes on, and through a few well-placed discussions, he begins to consider the idea of asexual or aromantic identity. Weaving together everyday incidents and annoyances with revelatory moments, the narrative is somewhat subdued but true to life—not every challenge must be paralyzing, and not every conclusion must be a sea change. A story about kids learning to feel good about themselves on their own terms is no small thing, and Jay is a low-key, lovely protagonist. Greene's simple, bubbly color illustrations are friendly and accessible, matching the content perfectly. Jay is white. VERDICT An earnest exploration of adolescence, recognizable and relevant to middle schoolers coming into their own.—Emilia Packard, Tokyo - Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.