Title: The Isobel Journal
Author: Isobel Harrop
Publisher: Switch Press
Source: Capstone on NetGalley (A copy of this book was provided to me in exchange for an honest review.)
Check this book out on Goodreads.
THE ISOBEL JOURNAL is no ordinary snapshot of a contemporary teenage life. A charming and vivid narrative scrapbook of the eighteen-year-old author’s sketches, mini-graphic novels, photographs and captions, it captures her wit, her observations and her creative talent as she takes us through the three central themes in her life: ‘Love’, ‘Friends, Art and Otters’ and ‘Me’. (Source: Goodreads)
The Isobel Journal is a journal, mostly comprised of drawing, that follows the life and feelings of 18 year-old Isobel Harrop. The book looks at her life, her friends, things she likes, boys she likes, and break-ups. The book is non-sequential, largely episodic, and does not really tell a story. At it’s heart the book is a collection of drawing that Isobel has put words to, but doesn’t really say much of anything else.
I thought that this book sounded really interesting when I read about it initially. However, I was really let down by this book. It’s not a difficult book to read because it’s largely pictures, but it isn’t something enjoyable to read. The images are grouped into categories, but are largely random and unconnected. This doesn’t produce a particularly interesting or enjoyable collection of images or “story” as such. Perhaps because there wasn’t a story and Isobel doesn’t really say anything I felt like the book fell a little flat and lacked any real substance. There wasn’t any solid ground for the book to stand on because it was mostly just a collection of scraps.
Isobel, to me, wasn’t very interesting, which is disappointing because she is a real person! However, I found that Isobel tried hard to present herself as someone with so much depth but made herself out to be a bit of a shallow, stereotypical, hipster teen. Because this is a journal, with autobiographical tidbits, it just seems so bad that Isobel couldn’t even present herself honestly. It was a huge disappointment to me.
Furthermore, I didn’t enjoy the art style of this book. I found some of the images pleasant, Isobel has a certain talent for drawing animals, but the overall effect of the images was a turn off. A lot of it was very scratchy and, in my opinion, poorly drawn. I thought some things were really interesting, like the drawing that overlapped pictures, but beyond that the style really fell flat.
Considering this was presented as a journal I was expecting something of a realistic depiction of a teenagers life, especially because Isobel wrote such an interesting subtitle to her book “Just a Northern girl from where nothing really happens.” There is so much you could do with a subtitle like that, but she just…didn’t. The whole book just seemed so shallow and artificial and I don’t find myself able to recommend this book at all.