cover image A Mess of Everything

A Mess of Everything

Miss Lasko-Gross, . . Fantagraphics, $19.99 (232pp) ISBN 978-1-56097-956-2

In this intense but humorous follow-up to Escape from “Special” Lasko-Gross's semi–alter ego must navigate the perils of high school life. Fifteen-year-old Melissa doesn't have a lot of friends and those she does have issues of their own: rebel Kylie is on the brink of another expulsion; Penny has a stutter and penchant for shoplifting; and Terry is a closet anorexic. The problems Melissa faces are common ones—rebel or not; get high... or higher; tell a boy how she feels—but Lasko-Gross handles each with care so that even readers who've gone through similar situations will be convinced that Melissa's woes are unique. As her grades plummet and her parents uncover her drug stash, Melissa becomes increasingly persuaded that life will never get better. It seems that her comic book, which she sells on consignment to local record stores, is the only thing keeping her going. With full-color art whose dour color palette mirrors the sometimes painful subject matter, Lasko-Gross seamlessly shifts between real conversations and the ones that exist only in Melissa's head, painting a complete portrait of her raw, emotional and bitingly sarcastic heroine, and leaving readers eager for the last installment of this planned trilogy. (May)