Mess Of Everything
Buy from tfaw.com
I was a teenager in the mid-to-late 1990s.
In a lot of ways, I think it was a pretty lucky time to be a teenage girl (if there ever is a “lucky” time to be a teenage girl). I got to listen to a lot of smart and/or women musicians, like Tori Amos, Courtney Love, Liz Phair. I got to see girls who were kind of like me on shows like My So-Called Life and later, Daria (and yeah, if I had watched it at the time, someone like Willow on Buffy: The Vampire Slayer would’ve been on this list). At the time, it was kind of cool to be a slightly strange, smart girl.
But none of this meant it was an easy time for me and the others like me.
Miss Lasko-Gross continues to share her experiences growing up a strange, smart girl in A Mess of Everything. Along the way, she deals with the universal struggles of family, grades, friends and boys.
Lasko-Gross tells her story in several short vignettes. They’re connected, but they can also stand alone. The early stories introduce readers to the characters — Lasko-Gross herself, her rebellious friends, her family — before launching into her downward spiral as she begins to get into trouble and her grades slip.
She presents these years in a matter-of-fact way. There are no apologies for smoking pot or her experiences with boys. Lasko-Gross shows that all these thing were part of her growing up and have made her who she is. while who she is now sometimes shows through, she captures the immediacy of adolescence in amazing detail.
Lasko-Gross’ art is appealing, with a fluid, elastic feel, giving her the freedom to present both realism and more abstract, emotional scenes. With a washed-out color palette that’s mostly grays with a few pops of color — Lasko-Gross’ red hair, a blue sky — the look works for a tale of adolescence, when everything felt a little bit darker than it should have.
I was much more of a good kid than Lasko-Gross was, but I could relate easily to her experiences of growing up and trying to find out who she is. Even though the ending feels a little too neat, she ends up in the best place for her and makes peace with those she’s left behind. It’s a satisfying place to leave her after we saw all the turmoil she went through. A Mess of Everything was ultimately a comfort to me, a fellow strange, smart teenager in 1990s.