Member Reviews

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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

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Thank you Net Galley and publishers for letting read an arc for an honest review.

Three generations of women trying to find themselves in life. The prime age of 16, they each went through tough times and tough mothers. Try as they might not to become their mothers they still passed on some of their hatred and insecurities to the next generation. It was very relatable and emotional. I loved the artwork and how it changed color depending on what generation was being portrayed. It was a very quick story for me, but still very powerful. Very beautifully drawn.

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“WOW.” That was literally what I said out loud as soon as I had finished the book I am sharing today.

Rosena Fung’s latest graphic novel, AGE 16 (published by Annick Press) is about Rosalind, a typical 16 year-old Chinese-Canadian girl, navigating through issues of identity, self-love and acceptance, body image, friendships, school, and her relationships with her mom and grandmother. The story goes between Rosalind’s perspective in Toronto in 2000, to her mom, Lydia’s childhood in Hong Kong in the 1970s, and Rosalind’s maternal grandmother, Mei Lan’s, own tumultuous life in Guangdong and Hong Kong in the 1950s. Each of these women’s life had been shaped by their own mother’s experiences as a woman in an unforgiving patriarchal world— and a fierce loving desire to protect their daughters.

As a Chinese-Canadian woman, I cannot even begin to express how much this book resonated with me. From the Toronto setting to the Hong Kong and Chinese cultural references and expectations, to the struggle of making sense of their mothers’ harsh criticisms, to the constant pressure of fitting in, and dealing with being hyperaware of being “fat”— I identified with it ALL. The shifting between the different perspectives and experiences of Mei Lan, Lydia, and Rosalind allowed me to empathize and understand how trauma is passed on between generations, but underlying it all is a fierce, desperate need to love and be loved. As with Rosena Fung’s other graphic novel, LIVING WITH VIOLET (see earlier post ), AGE 16 is a much-needed book for the Chinese-Canadian community. This graphic novel about women surviving and thriving in a patriarchal world is also a perfect choice for International Women’s Day!

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I've already made space for a copy of this book in my classroom. Rosena Fung handles the complexities of multi-generational trauma with the care, consideration, and close attention it needs. The illustrations are beautifully drawn and add to this well crafted story.

Thank you NetGalley and the publisher for the e-ARC.

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This graphic novel is about a daughter, a mother, and a grandmother's experience being 16 years old in the 2000s Toronto, 1970s in Hong Kong. and 1950s rural China, and how their lives were shaped by their circumstances and their mothers.

I love the art style. Its fun, quirky, and I like how each character (daughter, mother, grandma) had their own chapters in their own color scheme. I loved the ending where all three color schemes are combined in present time. I thought there were a few moments in the book where it relied too heavily on the art, rather than the text.

I would recommend this book to folks who enjoy intergenerational coming of age stories about the immigrant (and second generation) experience.

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Age 16, by Rosena Fung, is a graphic novel that depicts generational trauma through three generations of mothers and daughters. The story touches on subjects such as fatphobia, adolescences, and absent fathers. The graphic novel switches between the three women’s points of views during different times of their lives, this includes, Guangdong 1954, Hong Kong 1972, and Toronto 2000.

I loved the graphic novel so much and I’m so grateful I got to read the ARC.

Generational trauma is such and important topic and it can be hard to write about, but the author did a fantastic job of capturing what it’s like to have trauma be passed down through many generations. 💕

This was relatable, which made my reading experience so much more intense. There were scenes that just made my heart ache. I wanted to reach into the book and hug all the characters.

The colors and designs of the book are beautiful and fit each setting/ character well.

I rate this book 5/5 stars! I hope to read more by Rosena Fung!

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

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I very much enjoyed Rosena Fung's Age 16. I particularly appreciated the different points of view shared by seeing the experiences of multiple generations in a family. Fung handles difficult subjects with grace and honesty, allowing space for the complicated aspects of characters personalities. The illustrations had lovely moments of detail in backgrounds and clothing that really highlighted important moments for each character and bridged the multiple timelines. If I'm being finicky, the only thing took me out of the story at times was the way in which Mei Laan's friends all refer to each other by name repeatedly. It didn't feel necessary for keeping track of everyone, though I can see why this was included in scenes with many characters being introduced. This could prove to be a solid choice for summer reading lists, with relatable content and historical perspectives. I look forward to seeing it in person!

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AGE 16 is a beautiful examination of intergenerational trauma and—ultimately—healing. I loved the different colors used for the different characters/timelines and how that all came together visually for Rosalind in the final scenes. Beautiful artwork and story.

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This is a semi-autobiographical graphic novel that delves into generational trauma of fatphobia and fatherlessness passed down by women to their daughters. I appreciated the different points of view of each woman in their youth as they navigated tricky familial expectations. Roz’s timeline was set in 2000, a time when body positivity did not exist and only size 00 bodies were valid. This story was heartbreaking and it really shows exemplified that harmful ideals about bodies need to be eradicated rather than continuing to pass down to future generations.

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"Age 16" by Rosena Fung is a strikingly poignant graphic novel that captures the complexities of adolescence through the intertwined lives of three generations of mothers and daughters. Each segment, taking place when the characters are 16, offers a unique window into their struggles and triumphs, weaving a rich tapestry of cultural and personal identity. Fung tackles heavy themes such as gender expectations, race, beauty standards, and body image with a delicate touch that resonates deeply. The shifting perspectives across different eras—from Guangdong in 1954, to Hong Kong in 1972, to Toronto in 2000—highlight how societal pressures and family dynamics evolve yet somehow remain constant.

The artwork in "Age 16" complements the story beautifully, with a style that captures the essence of each time period and the emotional landscape of the characters. Fung's ability to draw from her own family history adds authenticity and depth to the narrative, making the struggles and victories of Roz, her mother, and Por Por feel all the more real and impactful.

This graphic novel is not just a story about growing up; it's an exploration of how our families shape us, for better or worse, and how the legacies of our ancestors are carried within us. "Age 16" is a must-read for fans of Mariko Tamaki and anyone interested in a moving, multigenerational tale that speaks to the heart of what it means to find one's place in the world amidst the pressures of external expectations and internal desires.

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A amazing coming of age story about how mothers and daughters pass down and rebel against standards of size, gender, race, beauty and worth. The story follows 3 times: 1954, 1972, and 2000 and follows three women. In Guandong 1954, sixteen year old Mei Laan longs for a future of freedom and hoping to use her beauty to get an arranged marriage... maybe she'll find happiness in Hong Kong. In Hong Kong, 1972 sixteen year old Lydia wants nothing other than to pursue dance and to gain her mother's approval.... which has been hard since her mother is extremely critical and mostly absent... especially sharp about Lydia's weight. In Toronto, 2000 sixteen year old Roz is grappling with who she wants to be and how she wants to look. Roz thinks that if she were thinner, everything would be better. When Roz's grandmother, Mei comes to town abruptly.... the three generations of women are all under one roof and all three of these women have a strained relationship with each other. Can they find a way to finally mend the rift between them? This was such a touching and beautiful coming of age story that really resonated with me. The generational trauma and the body image issues that we can pass down to each other was so well depicted. This story really touched my heart and it was so well written. I would absolutely recommend this book!

*Thanks Netgalley and Annick Press Ltd., Annick Press for sending me an arc in exchange for an honest review*

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Another fantastic, deeply personal YA coming of age graphic novel from Canadian artist/author, Rosena Fung, in which she shares her family history and the complicated intergenerational relationships between her, her mother and her mother's mother.

The book focuses a lot on body image and being pressured to fit an ideal thin beauty standard, while also giving flashbacks to the 50s and 70s in China and Hong Kong. Great illustrations paired with important messages about loving people for who they are make this a standout read!! Highly recommended for fans of books like Hungry Ghost by Victoria Ying and Almost American girl by Robin Ha.

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an early digital copy in exchange for my honest review! This is definitely going to be one I put on my forever shelf full of other fav graphic novels.

CW: disordered eating, fatphobia, body shaming

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A beautiful and emotional story that I’ll be thinking about for a long time. The sign of a great book is one where the characters and story sticks with you and that’s the case here for me.

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