Somerville’s Liz Prince put up with a lot as a girl who didn’t want to be girly, but she’s turned her experiences into a charming, powerful graphic novel called “Tomboy” that has been winning great reviews, became a “gently subversive” pick of the week from People magazine, just got translated into French and is in the final rounds of voting at Goodreads (vote here!) to be named best graphic novel of the year. (Kirkus Reviews already calls it one of the books of the year.)
The Ignatz Award-winning Prince appears Thursday evening at the Cambridge Main Library for a free talk about her memoir, described as being about “friendship, gender, punk rock and the power of the perfect outfit.”
She agreed to take some questions while on the road:
You’ve been touring behind “Tomboy.” What have you been hearing from readers that has been reassuring, disturbing or pleasantly surprising?
I’ve been getting a lot of comments from parents who have read the book who say that it has helped them understand their children a lot better, which is incredibly unexpected and touching. One very quirky lady at an event asked me if all tomboys grow up to be lesbians, and I suggested that she read the book to find her answer (that interaction falls under disappointing). Overall, it’s been really positive – I even got some fan art from a 9-year-old girl.
What’s the next media you’d recommend to someone who’s finished “Tomboy”?
One of the reasons I wrote “Tomboy” is because I’ve never seen a gender addressed this way in a graphic novel (or even in a prose book before); I even mention in the book that I didn’t see any movies or books or cultural movements that included characters like me when I was growing up. Ariel Schrag’s book “Potential” was the first book that I read that I really found “myself” in. As for right now, there is a great Swedish film about three 13-year-old girls who decide to start a punk band called “We Are the Best.” I think it was just added to Netflix, but I saw it in the theater over the summer. I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a narrative that is empowering to girls in a similar way as “Tomboy.”
We live in progressive cities in a time in which we see society making strides toward inclusiveness and acceptance. Would things be better here and now for a young Liz Prince?
This is a question I’ve been asked before, and I’m really not qualified to give an answer, because I have no idea what it’s like to be a kid in 2014. There is a much larger degree of self-discovery that goes on when you’re older, in your teens and 20s, and that was when I really became aware of gender issues. There is definitely a lot more conversation about inclusion for queer and transgendered people out in the open now, and my gut feeling is that that has to be helping, but as far as someone growing up now is concerned, I don’t know how far-reaching it is.
Prince appears at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Cambridge Main Library, 449 Broadway. Free.