Chmakova, Svetlana. Awkward. Yen Press, 2015. 210 pages. Hardcover $20.45, ISBN 978-0-316-38132-1; Tr. $9.40, ISBN 978-0-316-38130-7


TL;DR: Do I recommend this? Yes!


Genre: School story (Graphic Novel)


Part of a series? No.


Plot Summary:

This graphic novel explores what it is like to be new in school, how to make friends, and how to cooperate. Peppi is new in school, and when she accidentally runs into a nerdy boy (making her drop all of her things), the popular kids refer to her as “Nerder’s girlfriend” as he helps her clean up. She is later mortified by the fact that she shoves him away and runs. As a member of the Art Club, her mortification increases when Jamie (“Nerder”) turns out to be a really good guy … and a member of the Science Club. These two clubs hate each other, and when a competition to earn the last spot at the school’s club fair gets ugly, due to an awkward circumstance, Peppi might ruin everything!


Critical Evaluation/Reader’s Comments:

I have not said “Squee!” out loud since high school, but here I am, squeaking (or should that be “Squee-king?”). The characters in this book are well-rounded, realistic, and diverse. Ms. T is a fantastic science teacher (I wish I had had her class!), and the background cast includes some well-defined nerds, popular kids, and artists.


Curriculum Ties/Library Use:

This would be a fantastic book club book, and it could be used to start a multi-club collaboration. Perhaps the book club could, for this unit, partner with a sports team to create a multimedia arts project (so, rather than “scientists working with artists,” this could be a “bookworms working with athletes” collaboration). (Idea from myself)


Grade Level: 5-8


Awards and starred reviews:

School Library Connection starred 4/1/16


Reviews referenced:

Pawuk, M. (2015, July 20). Review of the day: “Awkward” by Svetlana Chmakova (Review of the book Awkward). School Library Journal. Retrieved from

Vail, A. M. (2015, June 20). Svetlana Chmakova’s Awkward is anything but, and you need to read it (blog post). The Mary Sue. Retrieved from



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