Little Fish : A Memoir from a Different Kind of Year begins with Ramsey Beyer’s reflections on growing up in a little farm town, Paw Paw, Michigan. But nothing exciting seemed to be happening there and the culture felt one-dimensional. As a high schooler, the most fun she could extract from between the cornfields was punk music and the internet (Livejournal, to be more specific). Armed with her own intimate records from years worth of personal journals, Beyer crafts her memories into an offbeat coming-of-age story with intricate details and drawings in a zine-like fashion. Eventually, she makes her way off the farm in Paw Paw and into the big city of Baltimore, where she transitions into a whole new life at an art college; the graphic novel continues to blossom from there.
Personally, I can relate immensely to this unique story: I, too, grew up in the little town of Paw Paw, Michigan, pop. 3,534. I also spent my childhood following my mom to “The Shopping Center” and eating ice cream in the summertime at “The Sugar Bear” (see Ramsey’s map of Paw Paw in the book). Although I didn't leave to go to art school, I also flew the coop as soon as I could, and headed due east. I have in turn grown an appreciation for the distinct city life and diverse cultures that fill the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti/Detroit area of Michigan, and have had many new experiences similar to Ramsey’s since leaving our small town.
Don’t get me wrong, though, Paw Paw - with its vineyards and slower ways of life - will always have a place in my heart, and Ramsey’s too, as anyone can tell from this extraordinary graphic novel.