Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Book review: The Isobel Journal by Isobel Harrop.

The Isobel Journal is no ordinary snapshot of a contemporary teenage life. A charming and vivid narrative scrapbook of the eighteen-year-old author's sketches, mini-graphic novels, photography and captions, it captures her wit, her observations and her creative talent as she takes us through the three central themes in her life: 'Love', 'Friends, Art and Otters' and 'Me'.

The Isobel Journal is sort of a graphic novel, except not really. There are illustrations and photographs, beautiful drawings and funny captions, and there is no story line or anything that really resembles a plot.

What The Isobel Journal is, really, is exactly that. It is a journal. It is Isobel Harrop's journal, to be precise. This means that there is no solid narrative and very little structure but what is here in abundance is Harrop's wonderful drawing style and wit. Her drawings are charming and a little quirky and very much the style of a teenage girl drawing in her sketchbook. They remind me a lot of the drawings my artist friends would make in their sketchbooks when we were teenagers, in fact. Some of the illustrations are very personal and others less so but they are all lovely and they all give the reader a view into the life of this teenage girl.

I love stripes!

Above is an example of a spread from The Isobel Journal. Harrop also uses photographs and snippets of text in some of her illustrations (and one of those snippets of text won me a nice stack of books from Hot Key last month. More on that in another post!) and these techniques work together to create a real scrapbook feeling. The book is split into three sections. The first section 'Me' is Harrop introducing herself to the reader, the second 'Friends, Art and Otters' delves a little deeper into Harrop's life and interests, and the third section 'Love' almost has a narrative and is certainly the most emotionally personal of the three sections.

There may not be a clear plot to this book but Harrop's illustrations do tell a story. They tell the story of Harrop's teenage years and they do so in a way that makes this book both beautiful and relatable. I read the whole thing in less than an hour but I know that I will go back to it again and again.

4/5 stars.


  1. This look really cute! I love the illustration style.

    1. It is so cute! A really quick read but just so lovely to look at.