By Laura Lee Gulledge, Amulet Books, $18.95, 192 pages

10“Bad experiences are like bad drawings. They stay in our sketchbooks. They stay a part of us. You can’t erase your past or who you are. You have to deal with it, I suppose.”

Page by Paige, by Laura Lee Gulledge, offers a unique look into the pressures and worries of being a teenager through a lyrical combination of illustrations and prose. This graphic novel follows a young girl named Paige as she moves from Virginia to New York City, struggling with both her inner journey of self-discovery and her adjustment to her new home.

In many ways, the book reads more like a long-form poem—quiet and reflective—than a typical teen novel. Designed to appear like a girl’s sketchbook diary, the story is less plot driven than introspective. The drawings are metaphorical, reflecting Paige’s inner turmoil, and the text is equally dedicated to the exploration of her emotional state.

Despite the keen focus on teenage angst in the story, this book falls short of capturing the emotional authenticity central to the best young adult literature. The text seems less like the musings of an actual teen and more like the efforts of an adult teacher or counselor trying to explain teenagers to themselves. Therein lies the weakness of this novel. Instead of discovering truths hidden in a well-crafted story, the reader never quite shakes the impression that the book is trying to teach a lesson about how to be a self-actualized teen.

Reviewed by Karen Dewitz