Member Reviews

This was an emotional, heartbreaking story about generational trauma, body-shaming, and the complicated relationship between mothers and daughters. I enjoyed the read, but both Roz's mother and grandmother are really hard to like even while learning about their backgrounds. I enjoyed Roz's chapters much more and wish there would have been more development of her current and new friendships.

This was also quite similar to another book I just read, Hungry Ghost by Victoria Ying, and I found myself thinking back to it and comparing the two books as I read. I knot that's not really fair to this story, but as a reader that happens sometimes.

Was this review helpful?

I think this book is going to be one of my all time favorite graphic novels. The story really took a look at generational trauma, and how it affects not only us, but our children and their children. Rosena Fung, explores these topics in a meaningful way that hit very close to home for me as we followed Roz, her mother Lydia, and grandmother Mei Laan through their own struggles and while their struggles are different they are more related than what they all initially think. The ending is satisfying and while, not everything is immediately fixed you can tell that by the end their relationship is heading in a better direction, and that hopefully the future will look brighter for them all.
The writing, and art for this graphic novel are gorgeous and suit the story perfectly. There were some scenes that as a plus size woman who has been plus size her entire life that made me want to cry for both Roz and her mother, and the way the art depicted it was beautiful.
This is definitely a must read, and I will definitely be looking at getting a copy for myself, as well as the library I work at. Because this story, is beautifully powerful.

Was this review helpful?

This book was great! I give it a 4.5/5. You follow three different women with different realities but similar problems. It was great to see the generational trauma and how each character tried to get over it. We encounter many issues such as divorce, weight issues as well as dealing with our sexuality. The reality described in the 2000s was very relatable without seeming too packed with current issues to deal with. I loved it and related to the book despite not being an immigrant, which is why this book was so great.

Was this review helpful?

Age 16 follows 3 generations of mothers and daughters and what they are going through at a young age-societal beauty standards, expectations, and self-worth.

The main storyline features Roz, who is gearing up for her first prom. She's bigger than all of her friends and tries desperately to lose weight, with no help from her mother's constant passive swipes about her weight. Then we go back in time to when Roz's mother was her age, also dealing with societal beauty standards and a mother who says hurtful things about her weight and self. Take it back another generation with Roz's grandma just wanting to have a nice life, but having to escape the life she was granted.

I cried. I boo-hooed. Roz is a very relatable character-she wants to be accepted by her friends, her mom, and society, but between her weight and her interests, she is struggling to feel like she fits in with anyone, and struggling to feel like what she likes is valuable. To see how generational trauma gets passed down without the people even meaning for it to happen hurts to see as well. This graphic novel does this kind of story justice. Each generation has a color theme as well, and when that was broken (no spoilers, haha) it was beautiful.

This is a beautiful, emotional book, and one I wish would have been around when I was younger.

Thank you to Netgalley and Annick Press for the e-ARC!

Was this review helpful?

Heart wrenching graphic book but also has some hope in people changing. This book covers three generations and the sexist ableist messages they received. I cringed in moments with what the grandma and mom said to the MC but also found it so realistic. Loved the beautiful message of the book… that we can make the world fit to us if we don’t fit in.

Was this review helpful?

In a Nutshell: An impactful OwnVoices graphic novel highlighting toxic parenting and intergenerational trauma, through the narratives of a granddaughter, a mother, and a daughter. Loved the triple timeline approach, each with its own powerful point to make. But some more elaboration could have elevated this story even further.

Plot Preview:
2000. Toronto. Roz is a typical teen, nerding out on alien fiction, evaluating her college options, and looking forward to the prom. But as she is plus-sized, her body weight is her constant worry, exacerbated by her mother’s demands that she eat less. When her estranged grandmother arrives unexpectedly, the relationship between the trio is further weakened.
The plotline is mainly focussed on Roz, but there are two other timelines – 1972 Hong Kong and 1954 Guangdong – detailing her mother’s and her grandmother’s backstories respectively.

Bookish Yays:
🌹 The introductory note by the author gives the right start to the story. She makes it clear that this is a fictional work as well as a generational memoir.
🌹 The triple timeline, each focussed on a sixteen-year-old (hence, the title: ‘Age 16’) in a different location, lifestyle, and era, but struggling against similar expectations: parental, societal, and cultural.
🌹 The themes, especially the pressure on girls to fit into a certain body size and shape, how bullying can occur even at home, and how parents don’t realise how they are passing on to their children the same stress they had undergone in their youth.
🌹 The mother-daughter relationships in this book are tricky to appreciate, but the story shows how leaving too much unsaid never works in the long run. Communication is key.
🌹 Love how Roz and Lydia are shown to be so much more than their weight. While their weight is a prime cause of tension in their respective timelines, the story lets us see them as a person than as a fat person, which is so very important.
🌹 I also love how all three of the main characters have inner voices talking to them, questioning their every move and casting doubt in their hearts. It highlights how deeply we can be affected by naysayers, not just the external ones but also the ones in our head.
🌹 The illustrations follow a triple colour scheme, each in a secondary colour palette: monochrome purple for Rosalind in Toronto, monochrome orange for Lydia (the mother) in Hong Kong, and monochrome green for Mei Laan (the grandmother) in China. The hues suit the youthful tone and the chaos of teen age, and also serve as a reliably easy indicator of the active timeline. Towards the end, the 2000 timeline starts using green and orange, showing the developing harmony among the trio.
🌹 I liked the ending. It was not perfectly sealed, nor an unrealistically happy one, but an aptly hopeful finish.

Bookish Nays:
🌵 What could have been a perfect experience is somewhat marred by the unanswered questions, especially in Lydia’s and Mei Laan’s stories. Granted, Roz is the key character as the past affects her present the most. But without knowing the extended details in the two historical timelines, the decisions of Lydia and Mei Laan feel vague. Mei Laan’s arc is the weakest of the trio. I wish her reasons for not sharing the secrets of her traumatic past with her daughter had come out more clearly. Moreover, as I could see the struggles of all three characters, I faced mixed feelings when one timeline made me sympathise with a character but another timeline generated frustration towards that very person.

All in all, this graphic novel has a meaningful plot and an impactful theme, but it could have been an even more memorable experience had it developed the historical backstories in more detail. Nevertheless, it is a great option for young adults who will hopefully learn to accept themselves as they are and communicate with their parents or guardians instead of silently wishing for the best while living the worst.
Definitely recommended to YA readers looking for a good coming-of-age and self-acceptance story in graphic format.

4.25 stars.

My thanks to Annick Press and NetGalley for the DRC of “Age 16”. This review is voluntary and contains my honest opinion about the book.

Content warnings: Fatphobia, fat shaming, eating disorders, toxic parenting.

Was this review helpful?

This ripped my heart out of my chest, scrunched it up, and stitch it back together.

I love the art of it, and it is such a nice detail to have the three different eras have a different color. The style of everything, the details, just chef kiss!

Now the story really touched my heart. The struggle of Roz with her weight is a journey I have been myself on, and it is so hard and such a roller coaster. Her shopping for her prom dress and being stressed out about a date reminded me on my prom time, but I was lucky to have such supportive friends that didn't add to the pleasure and no comparison. Still, it is such a hard time as a teen. Lydia also struggled with her weight a lot, but she had her aunt Ping help her love herself, saying "You can't always find something that will fit off the rack, Lydia. But if you find you don't fit in, you can always make things fit just for you." (pg 177). Such an easy fix you can't think of when everything is so overwhelming. And I am going to keep repeating it on my head all the time now.

Both mothers were really trying to be good mothers in the way they knew how to be. Mei Laan was not supportive of her daughter going away and pushed for Lydia to find a good husband, but she protected her daughter from her abusive father and trying to push her to have a better life than she did, in the way she thought Lydia would accomplish it. Mei's own mother did what she thought was best. There was this one scene, where Mei's mother slaps her, and later on cries at night from a nightmare where they are trying to take Mei from her and offers herself instead. Lydia tries to be supportive of her daughter, and doesn't realize how the weight comments can affect Roz the way they affected her.

The cycle between trying to be a good mother and failing at times is so hard. Because mothers try to do their best for their daughters with the tools they have while trying to not repeat what their mothers did to them. Lydia manages to do this towards the end, respecting her daughters wishes and being kind and compassionate.

There was an author's note at the beginning of the book, which touched me deeply. But this part specifically explains how complex mother and daughter relationships can be.

"mothers can be especially critical of their daughters' bodies. They hold the ways the world has been cruel to them as girls and women and pass it on. I recognize now that my mom wanted to protect me from our society's hatred of fatness, but in doing so ended up repeating it. It's taken a lifetime for me to figure out that I can accept her love but reject this inheritance."

The ending of the book I feel is very realistic and not Disney like. There is no waterworks and tears, forgiveness like nothing ever happened. Instead, there is an acknowledgement of the hurt and pain, and a nudge towards doing better in a way. Because yes in an ideal world we get the Disney ending, but this I felt was so perfect, especially with all the personalities of the characters. It truly felt like a warm hug.

This is ultimately such a beautiful work, and I will more than likely buy myself a physical copy of it when it comes out.

Was this review helpful?

Thank you Annick Press and NetGalley for an advanced digital copy in exchange for my honest review. This was an enjoyable intergenerational, multiple POV coming of age graphic novel. I loved the use of different color schemes for each POV, and the weaving of similar themes that are passed down through generations yet with their own stories as well. This would be a great book club read that would spark great discussions about family, gender, and body image. A very unique and powerful story.

Was this review helpful?

*Thank you NetGalley and Annick Press for sending me this book for review consideration. All opinions are my own.*

Wow, wow, wow. What a terrific graphic novel. I loved that this followed three generations of women (grandmother, mother, granddaughter) at the same age. You can clearly see how their personal trauma shaped their relationships and love for each other.

Couldn’t recommend enough.

Was this review helpful?

Rosena Fung's graphic novel is an emotional and beautifully illustrated story that dives deep into the complexities of family and the pressures around body image, beauty, and worth. Through the lives of three generations of women, Fung explores how these issues are passed down and rebelled against. The arrival of an estranged grandmother disrupts the family dynamics, bringing long-hidden secrets to the surface. This touching narrative, drawn from Fung's own family history, is both moving and essential, highlighting the enduring impact of generational legacies.

Was this review helpful?

I really loved the illustrations and the color scheme for this graphic novel. It was clever of the author to have each generation be told from a different color. It easily allows the reader to know which character they are following. The color the author chose also matches the personality of that character. It was intriguing to see three different generations be told and how each generation shaped the life of their daughter. This is a coming of age story that a lot of teens can relate to due to the themes of beauty and body image issues. I felt so bad for Mariko and all of the pressure she was putting on herself. It has a good mix of humor and emotional moments. I'd highly recommend it.

Thank you to Netgalley for my gifted copy. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Was this review helpful?

When I started reading this book, I thought, "This is nice, but how much are teens today going to care about what it was like to be a teen in the early 2000s, much less the '70s or '50s?" But by the end of the book, I was completely obsessed, crying, and telling everyone I know to read it. It's a gorgeous, layered, emotional story about complicated mother-daughter relationships, body image, inherited trauma, and breaking the cycle. Reading this book as a teenager would have changed my relationship to my own mom. It's an incredibly moving book that I can't wait to handsell!

Was this review helpful?

Thank you NetGalley and Annick Press for the advanced copy of Age 16. I teach 5th grade so it's a little advanced in the content for my students, but I would definitely recommend it for high school students. The author did an amazing job of communicating so much feeling and depth in a graphic novel. I am always amazed at how much gets portrayed in just a few boxes! The images were excellent. The book spans 3 generations and how each one of the characters was living at the age of 16 including how their relationship with their mom was at the time. They had to deal with body image, gender issues, racism, war, and trying to feel accepted in the different story lines. It ends in a pretty positive note, so that is good for me.

Was this review helpful?

This is a very insightful coming-of-age graphic novel that follows three characters at age 16, both through time and the world: 1950s China, 1970s Hong Kong, and 2000 Canada. The main character is the daughter and granddaughter of the other characters, and we watch as they deal with the challenges of their era and societal complications of their country, all while perpetuating and coping with intergenerational trauma - primarily focusing on fatphobia as well as gender roles. This story fit the format of a graphic novel very well: I appreciated the art style and I thought it was very clever that the author used colour to mark time periods. My heart hurt watching the characters navigate the negativity in their lives, but the author also shows happy and hopeful moments and ultmately the message is inspiring - it is possible to heal and break the cycle of trauma, and the ending was very satisfying.

Thank you to Netgalley and Annick Press for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Was this review helpful?

There's lots of 'complex relationship between mother and daughter' lit out there, but in recent years I've seen more of a push to have the mother's story included — which is almost always that of the generational cycle repeating. Think: that small scene towards the end of Turning Red where you see the mom as a little girl. 

What I appreciate about this is that it's not a flash. It's three full narratives: daughter, mother, and grandmother, all at 16. All repeating versions of the same narrative, set in each of their respective locations: Toronto, Hong Kong, and China.

The crux centers around weight. The daughter and mother are big women. The grandmother is thin. The mother is passive aggressive about weight, a thousand micro aggressions about picking the right snacks and doesn't she want to look good for prom. The grandmother is outright critical and cruel. 

The truth in this, as is in life: each woman had it worse, and is doing the best with what she had. Each older woman's story is increasingly difficult and heartbreaking. And you know it just goes up the chain. 

I thought this was going to be a well-done 4 star read, but I cried through soooo much of the last bit - and that final image absolutely sliced me!! So enjoy my 5 stars! This was truly beautiful.

Was this review helpful?

This is focused on immigration experiences and mother daughter relationships. This book had me crying and realizing how much mothers and daughters impact each other. This is told with alternating perspectives between grandmother, mother and daughter when they are sixteen. They are each in a different location and how they manage with being sixteen. The pivotal moments of a sixteen year old's life and the changes that come with it was very interesting to read about. There is focus on mental health and how generational conflicts influence each of the women. This was a beautiful graphic novel and I will be recommending this to everyone. I also really loved the art style.

Was this review helpful?

Showing her actual weight makes it a hard no for me. I think that could be actively harmful to teens.

Was this review helpful?

Wow! That was incredibly beautiful -- the connections/parallels of the three generations were very well done, and I really loved the color-coordination between the three time periods (and how they overlapped when Rosalind was getting ready for her (anti-)prom!).

It was a great story of accepting who you are, which I feel like resonates well (hopefully) with teens, and it was pretty well said throughout. I feel like sometimes YA stories like this imply what the message is without directly telling it, which could be difficult for a teen reader to grasp, but here it is put pretty nicely in the phrase "maybe you're already who you're supposed to be."

PS
I just remembered something that irked me in the beginning (and throughout): that Rosalind's weight was displayed as a concrete number. It could give the message to teens who are over the displayed weight that their weight must be really bad if Rosalind is worrying about that. I am not really the one to go into this argument (I only really remember a few details about the conversation last year), but it is an important one to bring up.

Was this review helpful?

If you don't think that graphic novels can contain deeply emotional, profoundly touching, multi-layered narratives, then this book will change your mind. If you already know that graphic novels can do all that, then you are in for a treat. Age 16 tackles so many of the timeless worries and fears of being a teenage girl, and demonstrates just how timeless (and heartfelt) they are by simultaneously showing three different generations of the same family all going through them, at three different times in the past. Within each character's world, there's much to unpack in the relationship between the mother and daughter: as there often is at this age, and with some of the dynamics that exist (e.g. body beliefs passed down through generations). But this book makes this telling particularly insightful because the mother in the first chapter may be the daughter in the second chapter. The grandmother in the sixth chapter was the mother in the second chapter. And so forth. In this way, we see the reverberations of impacts and injuries across the generations. But we also see hope and internal strength. This is a beautiful book that I'm certain will find many fans.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing this eARC for unbiased review. This review will be cross-posted to my social media accounts closer to the book release date.

Was this review helpful?

I loved this book. I thought it was amazing to read the story of the women and how their lives all intersect and repeat over the decades. It was a great book and the art was stunning

Was this review helpful?