I had concerns with the previous book I read by Lauren Barnett, but I was really drawn to this abstract watercolor cover that adorned Secret Weirdo. Nah, that’s undervaluing things. I love this cover. I actually pinned it up in my office at work. In a contemporary art museum, it’s been quite the conversation starter. Though I’m not sure it justifies the $5 price tag, the short story is that this book included more of the elements I liked and less of the ones I didn’t. I got the feeling that Barnett had something to say here, and that was a very welcome shift in tone. Her commentary about gender politics and use of the word “cute” as a descriptor are well observed. There are stronger forays into storytelling here, more diversity in the figure work, and more interesting bits of autobiography, such as the tale of the lemonade stand and various business ventures she attempted in her youth. Most of the sentences lack capitalization, but this e. e. cummings riff is performed consistently and appears to be a conversational style choice that fit the overall aesthetic nicely. I did catch one typo, “awesomness” vs. “awesomeness,” but for the most part I really enjoyed this book. The humor is self-effacing, the tone is disarming and welcoming, and the artistry involved with the bird on the back cover or lettering in Master Driver & NaviGirl are full of flair and a unique sense of design. More information can be found at: www.melikesyou.blogspot.com Grade B+.
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