Cardinal rule #1 for surviving school: Don’t get noticed by the mean kids.  Cardinal rule #2 for surviving school: Seek out groups with similar interests and join them.  On her first day at her new school, Penelope–Peppi–Torres reminds herself of these basics.  But when she trips into a quiet boy in the hall, Jaime Thompson, she’s already broken the first rule, and the mean kids start calling her the “nerder girlfriend.”  How does she handle this crisis?  By shoving poor Jaime and running away!  Falling back on rule two and surrounding herself with new friends in the art club, Peppi still can’t help feeling ashamed about the way she treated Jaime.  Things are already awkward enough between the two, but to make matters worse, he’s a member of her own club’s arch-rivals–the science club!  And when the two clubs go to war, Peppi realizes that sometimes you have to break the rules to survive middle school!


I stumbled upon Yen Press’ and Svetlana Chmakova’s book, “Awkward,” while browsing through the book department at my local Target store (more about the importance of this statement later).  There was something about “Awkward” that stood out to me; it felt like the book was staring at me and saying, “Buy me!”  So I did, and I was eager to begin reading this graphic novel.  Now, this is a book that’s targeted at younger audiences, as it’s listed under the children’s genre, but stories that take place in a school setting can be so much fun and interesting.  Within every school across the nation, there are so many stories that can be told, and everyday within those hallways, there are so many things going on with the students and their behaviors.


The star of this book, “Peppi” (Penelope) Torres, recently moved into this town, so at school she’s an outsider.  Being the new kid in school, the first thing Peppi doesn’t want to do is something embarrassing, like tripping over her own feet, but unfortunately, this is what happens to her.  Luckily, a boy (Jaime Thompson) comes over by her to lend a helping hand.  BUT…things get worse when Peppi finds out that this boy is the school nerd, and she’s ridiculed by the mean kids.  To top things off, due to the overwhelming embarrassment,  Peppi pushes the boy, knocking him to the ground.  This is a burden she’ll have to face for some weeks, and she’ll never forget the look on his face, after she pushed him to the floor.


For weeks, Peppi tries to approach the boy to apologize, especially since he’s always alone, but she can’t come to her senses to do it.  Peppi discusses this during “Art Club” with her two good friends, Tessa Winston and Nina Badyal, but the art teacher, Mr. Ramirez (Mr. R), interrupts their conversation.  Mr. R lets the students know that this year, there will be no table for the art club at the “Annual School Club Fair.”  This is all because of the “Science Club,” and the rivalry begins with the “Art Club” and the “Science Club.”  A lot of characters are introduced shortly after, and these are the main players that make this story fun to read.  Readers will also meet the “Science Club” teacher, Miss Tobins, who’s a motorcycle riding, Kung-Fu Master, and former NASA member.  Well, that’s the rumor, anyway.


Later on, readers will see if Peppi finds it within her to apologize to Jaime, and how things turn out for both clubs.  This story deals with friendship, sabotage, betrayal, honesty, loyalty…basically the issues kids have to face at school, and making decisions, whether they’re right or wrong.  These are the days where kids will find out who their peers are and who their life-long friends will be, and this book captures this extremely well.  This is a graphic novel that every library should own, so the students can check it out and read.  There are several life lessons within this book; having this story in the graphic novel format makes it visually stunning and memorable.


Overall, I enjoyed this graphic novel.  The story and art are produced so well, I finished this book in one sitting, it’s hard to put this book down once it’s being read.  The characterization is presented well, readers will have to decide which side they prefer, the “Art Club,” or the “Science Club.”  And the two main characters, Peppi and Jaime, it’s nice to see how their character develops by the end of this story.  The best part is that this is available at places like Target, so it’s not hard to find and pick up a copy of this book (without having to go to a specialty shop).  Also, now’s a great time to read this book, because the follow-up to this book, “Brave,” is being released on May 23, 2017, from Yen Press.  I rate “Awkward” 4.8 Geek-Heads out of 5, a must-read for people of all ages.  The book has 226 Pages and the cover price for the paperback version is $11.00 (U.S.), $6.99 on ComiXology and other digital formats, and $24.00 for the hardcover edition.



Awkward © Svetlana Chmakova © Yen Press © Hachette Book Group