BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

How I Made It to Eighteen: a mostly true story by Tracy White

How I Made It to EighteenTracy White’s graphic sort-of-autobiography is “only mostly true because I skipped over things, moved events around, embellished, and occasionally just plain made things up,” she explains on the first page. “The technical term for this is dramatic license. I used it,” she adds in the same dry, detached tone she uses so effectively throughout her chilling, starkly-drawn, memorably startling debut.

She tells her “mostly true story” – very cleverly, rather frighteningly – as Stacy Black, complete with commentary from four friends from various stages of her young life, doctors’ files, and clinical and therapy records.

At 17, Stacy has a mental breakdown. Depressed, lonely, drug-addicted, bulimic, living with her musician boyfriend, she looks out the window one morning and decides hurting herself is better than just going on. After her “little incident,” she finally realizes that she needs professional help and admits herself to Golden Meadows – “restoring mental healthy since 1938.”

Even as she has hit rock-bottom, somehow she knows that she wants to be happy again. Dividing her chapters into random chunks of “length of stay,” she begins a slow, gut-wrenching journey toward recovery – one slow day, one tiny achievement at a time. She finds fellow friends including a boy who might actually care about her (unlike her useless and abusive boyfriend she can’t seem to let go), a shrink who listens even when she refuses to speak, and even endures the grave difficulty of confronting her seemingly self-absorbed mother.

Parents will certainly shudder reading this. But read it they should: White/Black (she is so very clever!) can certainly offer some life lessons for both teenagers and their parents. While reading this, I was also iPod-listening to Leonard Sax’s Girls on the Edge (I ordered the actual book so I can quote from it accurately which I can’t do from the download … yes, it’s that good to buy twice!) and chapter after chapter, I kept thinking, ‘if only White and her mother had had access to Girls on the Edge, so much heartbreaking suffering might have been alleviated!’ Actually, having finished both, I’m even more convinced …

Readers: Young Adult, Adult

Published: 2010


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