No Ivy League by Hazel Newlevant is based on the author’s true story of when they spent a summer as a teenager working at the “No Ivy League”. The “No Ivy League” hired teens to strip invasive ivy from the forests of Oregon. During their time there, Hazel, who had been home-schooled, met other teens who not only had the experience of high school that they did not, but who also came from different, diverse backgrounds that they were not used to. This graphic novel illustrates how much they learned about themself, their privilege, and how to be with other teens.
I picked up this book at Antigone Books when I was visiting Tucson, Arizona. I was first drawn by Newlevant’s art style, which is absolutely beautiful. I really want to check out more of their work, if only to just look at their beautiful drawings. Each chapter has illustrations of the ivy that Hazel had to pull, and most of the book, because it is monochrome, relies a lot on shadows, which I think worked so well for showing the emotions of the characters.
The reason I gave this book three stars really is just because I don’t think I’m the target audience for this book. I did enjoy the story, and it was a neat glimpse into someone’s life and growth. However, I think this book would be great for people just getting out of high school or just starting college or whatever path they choose to take in their early 20s. I’m quite a bit past that age, but I still found this story a deep and meaningful experience.
No Ivy League was a quick and fun read, and I recommend to anyone in their teens/early 20s, or even those who just need to check their privilege.
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