Same Difference

by

Author/Illustrator:  Derek Kirk Kim

Title:  Same Difference

Genre/Format:  Realistic Fiction, Graphic Novel

Publication Date:  2011

Number of Pages:  90

Geographical Setting:  California (Oakland, Pacifica)

Time Period:  2000 (flashbacks to 1993)

Series:  N/A

Plot Summary:

Same Difference first appeared in the collection, Same Difference and Other Stories, which won both the Eisner and the Harvey awards when it debuted in 2004.  Here reissued as a stand alone graphic novel, Same Difference introduces Simon Moore and Nancy Kim- two Korean-American friends in their twenties living in Oakland, California. A trip to Simon’s hometown (Pacifica, CA), spurred by Nancy’s desire to see Ben Leland (a stranger whose love letters she has been secretly reading and responding to) leads to unexpected reunions with classmates from high school.  In both artwork and storytelling, Same Difference depicts the humor and poignancy of people trying to figure out where they are in their lives and what they want from the future- discovering that while our past mishaps may influence who we are today, they need not define us entirely.

Subject Headings:  Humorous stories, interpersonal relationships, friendship, Korean-Americans, graphic novels.

Appeal:  Humorous, poignant, reflective, regrets, missed opportunities, love letters, stereotypes, multicultural characters, friendship, awkward teenage relationships, rediscovery, growth, characters in their twenties.

Three appeal terms that best describe this book:  Humorous, reflective, friendship.

Similar Authors and Works:

Three Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

1. Happy Birthday or Whatever: Track Suits, Kim Chee, and Other Family Disasters by Annie Choi

Readers who enjoyed the humor of Same Difference, and its depiction of modern Korean-American characters may enjoy this book- a witty and funny collection of stories and anecdotes about growing up and being Korean-American.

2.  Making Comics: Storytelling Secrets of Comics, Manga and Graphic Novels by Scott McCloud

Readers interested in learning how to create stories in a graphic novel format may find this book a useful resource for getting started.  It covers theory and design principles involved with mixing words and art in storytelling, along with exercises and examples to motivate and inspire its readers.

3.  Other People’s Love Letters: 150 Letters You Were Never Meant to See by Bill Shapiro

A collection of real love letters of all sorts comprise this book- written on napkins, in e-mails, via traditional pen & paper, etc.  The messages range from funny and sweet to sad and sincere.  In Same Difference, Nancy reads the letters of a stranger, imagining the life and love of the author.  Other People’s Love Letters gives readers a similar glimpse into the personal relationships of others.

Three Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

1.  The Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Bank

This collection of stories centers around Jane Rosenal, beginning at the age of fourteen and continuing into her twenties.  Both Same Difference and this book follow the humor and drama of characters as they learn about themselves and their relationships during their twenties.

2.  Griffin and Sabine: An Extraordinary Correspondence by Nick Bantock

A story unfolds in a series of illustrated letters and postcards between Griffin Moss, a card-designer living in London, and Sabine Strohem, a mysterious woman living in the South Pacific.  Readers who enjoyed Nancy’s pursuit of a stranger, whom she came to know through his letters in Same Difference, may find the romance and mystery of this book appealing.

3.  Shortcomings by Adrian Tomine

Ben Tanaka is a Japanese-American man in his twenties living in Berkeley, California, who travels cross-country in pursuit of love.  Though more melancholy in tone than Same Difference, both stories are graphic novels involving relationships, cultural identity, and self-discovery.

Name:  Nicole

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