Good As Lily -- ass-kicking girl-positive graphic novel for young readers

Good As Lily is the latest book from Minx, who publish girl-positive comics aimed at young readers, and it may just be the best volume in the series so far. I've been a fan of the Minx comics imprint since I read the first volume, The Plain Janes. Good As Lily comes from Derek Kirk Kim (author of the multiple-award-winning Same Difference and Other Stories, and new illustrator Jesse Hamm.

It tells the story of Grace Kwon, a young Korean-American girl who, on her 18th birthday, finds herself in the company of her six-year-old self, her 29-year-old self and her 70-year-old self, three women who become a part of her life as she finishes out her last semester of high school before going off to her freshman year at Stanford.

Grace is a perfect young adult protagonist, likable and flawed, insecure and brave, driven and oblivious all at once. She's in love with her drama teacher (and bent on rescuing the school play from budget cuts), surrounded by great (and flawed) friends, and embroiled in high-school dominance struggles that are savage as only school fights can be.

Kim's writing really shines here. In a few deft and spare scenes, he takes Grace (and her other selves) on a journey through which she is forced to confront and overcome her fears and flaws -- and not always with happy outcomes. Combined with Hamm's manga-inflected illustration, the story comes to life, making you root for Grace even as you facepalm yourself when she digs herself in deeper.

The Minx imprint is really top notch. Not every volume so far has moved me, but books like this one and The Plain Janes ensure that I'll keep buying the next book and the next and the next.

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