Glimpses of the life of the titular Isobel, who sees herself as “just a girl from where nothing really happens,” presented as a charmingly idiosyncratic scrapbook.
Divided into three sections—Me; Friends, Otters, College & Art; and Love—the journal is immediately immersive, placing readers directly into Isobel’s world. It assumes those readers are sympathetically thumbing through its pages, nodding and saying, “oh, me, too!” The narrative is very loosely structured around Harrop’s life-as-inner-monologue, filled with references to Beyonce, friends, British pop stars, thrift shopping and tea. Readers meet family members (but only as a point of reference), and though Harrop sketches her friends, imbuing each miniportrait with real personality and a rather Sendak-ian verve, they don’t play roles in any anecdotes or stories. Indeed, the entire concept of story is beside the point here, as Harrop’s work reads like a Tumblr re-organized by hashtag rather than by date. Although most illustrations are by hand and Harrop includes pages scanned in from her actual diary, the overall conceit is of an online commonplace book brought into print. Some readers may wonder about the point of such an exercise. These readers are not the intended audience, who will see themselves, their interests and their remix approach to life reflected in the many pages of impossibly cute animal drawings and Lauren Child–like collages of sketches and photographs.
A trifle—but a sustaining one. (Graphic memoir. 12-16)