Good as Lily
The every-other-book-is-good Minx pattern continues. Good as Lily is not the best book in the line (that would be Re-Gifters), but it’s a close second. Derek Kirk Kim (Same Difference and Other Stories) writes and Jesse Hamm draws this story of Grace, a girl just turning 18 who magically encounters herself at the ages of 6, 29, and 70.
Why now? Because Grace is unsure of where her life is going to take her, and her other selves aren’t very reassuring. The 29-year-old is single. The 6-year-old only wants to eat constantly. And the eldest is an annoying pain. This is a turning point for Grace, her chance to experiment with love and being the lead in the school play before she heads off to college and adulthood.
The exposition is naturally presented, with all of Grace’s friends introduced as they give her birthday gifts at a surprise picnic. Best friend Jeremy wants to be more, something subtly clear to the reader from their introduction to him. Typical of the high school age, though, Grace needs more of a nudge. She’s distracted by her crush on Mr. Levon, her drama teacher.
Particularly impressive in terms of the writing is how Kim balances the voices. All four women are Grace, so they should all sound like her, but at the same time, they’re distinctive in their concerns and attitudes, as demonstrated when they first meet and squabble. Plotwise, the book is dense, with plenty happening. The reader is involved in events at just the right level — they’re not spelled out simply, but everything’s there if paying attention.
They’re well-selected for visuals, too, like a car wash and a food fight and family dinner, all choices that allow for lots of character movement and varying angles. It’s also great to see the classic mean girl showdown resulting in Grace standing up for herself instead of running away in embarrassment.
I love the images of Grace swinging at the magic pinata that spurs the story. I can see her moving, and the montage effect captures the wild nature of blindfolded batting. That almost makes up for not understanding exactly how all this happens, with the other versions of herself, but that’s not really the point of the story, either. It’s a Maguffin — accept it in order to get to the point. Which is that being open and honest with others about how you feel is always much better off in the long run.
One thing Minx gets very right is their usage of cultures and backgrounds beyond the white Midwesterner. It’s neat seeing Grace and her Korean family and friends presented so naturally.