cover image Barely Functional Adult: It’ll All Make Sense Eventually

Barely Functional Adult: It’ll All Make Sense Eventually

Meichi Ng. Harper Perennial, $17.99 trade paper (416p) ISBN 978-0-06-294559-4

Occupying a space somewhere between memoir and self-help, prose and comics, this wry anecdotal debut unpacks Instagram cartoonist Ng’s second coming-of-age, when she’s waiting for “real” adulthood to start. Amusing, metaphor-packed cartoons about Ng’s life are arranged within topical text chapters that include subjects like the realms of responsibility, ill-fated relationships, career anxiety, and therapy. A memory of watching for shooting stars as a child, for example, provides insight into the difficult process of finding friends as an adult. Ng’s quick-draw cutesy cartooning style is familiar from fellow “explainer” webcomics, such as Matthew Inman’s the Oatmeal series. But her balance of straight text and light art lands uncomfortably as not-one-or-the-other, and sometimes overexplains what has already been shown in the brief illustrations. The border between “relatable” and “overdone” is also a fine line Ng sometimes crosses; while much of the book hits home, other sections tread into the oversaturated gag cartoon territory of bad managers and imposter syndrome, though she wisely avoids being prescriptive or preachy. These visual essays deliver a mostly distinctive take on familiar millennial woes. Agent: Cindy Uh, Thompson Literary. [em](Nov.) [/em]