Publication: October 2017
Publisher: Fantagraphics Books
Pages: 184 pages
Genre: Graphic Novel, Fiction, YA, Comic
My Rating: ⛤⛤⛤⛤
“All this hatred, anxiety, and anger built up in me. I held it inside in front of Dina. But soon the cork burst off the bottle. It all came out of me. I’m afraid I won’t get it back on” (Forsman 108-110).
All I can say is WOW! I did not see that ending coming, though I did read Forsman’s The End of the Fucking World and based on that alone I should have been waiting for a happier ending. I blame it on the YA happy ending trope, and while I’m happy Forsman continues to change it up it still left me speechless.
I Am Not Okay With This follows Sydney who seems like any other fifteen-year-old girl. She goes to high school, she has issues with her mom, she misses her dead dad, she is in love with her best friend Dina, oh and she has telekinetic powers. Maybe she’s not so normal after all, but her guidance counselor would like her to document her thoughts in a diary anyways, just to help her cope with everything around her. And we get a look into it all as Sydney tries to keep everything inside before her destroys everyone around her.
Forsman has a gift for writing and showing the difficulties of being a teenager. His characters struggle with fitting in, with trying to be normal, with just trying to figure out who they are. They feel hopeless, they feel lost, and they feel so incredibly angry. Some might call this a bit too teen angsty, but being a teenager means being angsty, it means having moments of feeling bad and lost and angry and hoping that the bad will someday turn to good.
Sydney was an incredibly interesting character to follow and I’d love if I Am Not Okay With This was made into a miniseries like The End of the Fucking World. I think it would make an amazing show that could be funny and sad like its predecessor, and I’d love to get to know more about Sydney. If anything I think I enjoyed I Am Not Okay With This more because it isn’t as ambiguous as The End of the Fucking World. We may not know exactly why Sydney does everything she does, but we can guess, or at least we know how she’s feeling which is more than The End of the Fucking World gave us with James and Alyssa (though the show did an excellent job of fleshing them out).
The book also acts as an excellent metaphor for mental health, of trying to cope and keep it all together by yourself, of even trying to find help and being denied it. It’s a dark look at someone suffering, of someone searching for a way to cope and finding none.
And again that ending! I did not see it coming but for this kind of story it was perfect. It’s dark, and depressing but its real and that’s what I love about Charles Forsman’s works. He doesn’t shy away from how bad and hopeless you can feel sometimes, because that’s life.
For any lovers of graphic novels or The End of the Fucking World, you’ll love I Am Not Okay With This for it’s honesty and realness. It’s an excellent addition to any bookshelf, and a story that makes you think about how you can really help others struggling with mental health.