Zine Review: That Girl 16

That Girl 16
Cover by Roland Martin
$5 US PPD / $8 Intl PPD

That Girl 16 is a black and white half-fold memoir zine (zine-oir?) about boys, breakups, and growing up as a slightly drunk, punk teenager in and around Hollywood.

That Girl gets into the writing straight away and opens with a gorgeous first sentence that immediately made me smile:

I believed I found my soulmate in kindergarten…

How lovely is that? I easily settled into the first section – a short tale of young crushes and teachers who spoil everything. Kelli’s amusing descriptions of their kindergarten acquaintances quickly made it clear that they have a fun writing voice when they decide to be cheeky. Later descriptions of people, albums, and places are (in my thoughts) the real strength of the writing.

Kelli goes on to write about significant relationships with both people and music. The main relationship that takes her through a significant part of high school is with Tom – someone she met largely due to a love/hate relationship with Pisces men. From hanging out with their group of friends to the challenges of dating a homeless person while trying to manage life as a highschooler.

Aesthetically, That Girl is primarily text with various stamps and small pictures to go along with the worry. Each section starts off with the first sentence in a different font, which I thought was a nice touch. A different take on the drop cap and a nice way to visually separate the different sections.

Kelli mentions various names of celebrities, band names, and places I’m not familiar with, but it didn’t take away from the reading much. I did feel a bit lost at times simply because Hollywood is so far away, and I’m not likely to go there. But a memoir is more about the feelings than the places, and she did really well setting up feelings in the first section.

It was also a little jarring when the relationship with Tom ends in one section, but he’s referred to in later sections. This happens a couple more times as well. That said, I haven’t read a memoir in a while and am very used to linear timelines.

The last section switches to third person (‘she’ instead of ‘I’). It reads well, but I must admit that I don’t understand the choice.

Kelli’s high school experiences are nearly as far away from mine as they could be, so I didn’t find a lot in this zine to identify with in experiences, but I could certainly identify with the feelings of connecting to people and music. Besides, part of what makes people fascinating is their differences, and that’s a large part of why I like reading memoirs.

That Girl started very sweetly and ended up being an interesting look into a world I know next to nothing about. A few people have commented that I don’t review a lot of punk zines on SGZ, and I’m glad to have had the opportunity to do so with this zine. Memoirs can be a little tricky in the recommending, but I think there’s a lot to appeal to a lot of different people – from punks to those who have fallen hard in love when they were young.

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