I.D.: Stuff That Happens to Define Us (Review)

Book cover for "i.d.: Stuff That Happens to Define Us" by Kate Scowen.Title: i.d.: Stuff That Happens to Define Us

Author: Kate Scowen

Illustrator: Peter Mitchell

Publication Year: 2010

Pages: 160

Genre: Non-Fiction, Graphic Novel, Young Adult

Source: Borrowed from the library at my school

From the cover:

Some things can change you forever. Your first love. An unexpected betrayal. Losing someone who matters more to you than anyone else…

i.d. offers 12 first-person accounts about life’s pivotal moments – those universal experiences from our youth that mar us, mold us, and make us who we are.

By turns thoughtful, painful, funny, and fierce, i.d. powerfully demonstrates that what defines us in youth doesn’t have to confine us forever.

This book seemed as though it would be a light and quick read, and in terms of speed it was. In terms of content, though, Scowan presented a lot to think about.

Each of the twelve brief “stories” in I.D. are little vignettes told in the first person by someone who has experienced an event that changed his or her life. These experiences include having a friend who commits suicide, being kidnapped by a parent, and getting into a streetfight with strangers. The stories are illustrated with simple drawings that help bring the reader into the story, but don’t give so much detail that they take over. After each story, there is a brief Q&A with the narrator, asking questions about how the experience shaped their identity.

I think that I.D. is a good book to help people get started on the idea of identity formation, particularly in adolescence, but I’m not sure that it’s very useful beyond a superficial introduction. The reader is given different scenarios and is allowed to take a peek into how these scenarios have shaped the narrators, which I can see as being helpful in that the reader might be able to identify with the turning points. Even if the example stories are not the same as the experiences of the reader, they can still extrapolate the vignettes to their own lives and see how they are forming their identities every day.

On the other hand, I don’t think that the stories – and follow-up questions and answers – are detailed enough to really give much depth to the readers’ understanding. It seems like much more of a general overview. I think that’s where this book has its weakness – it could have been so much more. In terms of a starter book, though, and particularly in terms of high-interest, low-vocabulary texts for struggling adolescent readers, this would definitely be a good pick. The content of the stories would be a good draw for reluctant readers.


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