“My fourteen years”, by Lucie Mikaelian, Jeanne Boëzec and Lisa Chetteau: memoirs of a troubled young girl

Excerpt from “My Fourteen Years”.

“My fourteen years. Investigation into my discovery of sexuality”, by Lucie Mikaelian, Jeanne Boëzec and Lisa Chetteau, Gallimard, “Comic strip”, 192 p., €24, digital €17.

In 1989, Charles Juliet published a book destined to become famous and to be adapted for the cinema, The Year of Awakening (POL). In the form of a diary, the poet told the story of his 14 years, the age at which this adopted child had discovered not only loneliness and violence, but also friendship and love. A period by turns exhilarating and painful, to which he returned with a “burning nostalgia”. The formula is ideal to describe the emotion that sets in motion the comic strip co-signed today by Lucie Mikaelian, Jeanne Boëzec and Lisa Chetteau under the title My fourteen years. Investigation into my discovery of sexuality. Here again, everything starts with a diary, kept this time by a teenager born in 1989 (right The Year of Awakening). There too, it is a question of reclaiming from the inside, and years later, the trouble of one’s own youth.

Lucie Mikaelian is 30 years old when she comes across this old spiral diary on which was written: “Diary – let people talk. » Throughout the year 2003, she had noted her anxieties, her hopes, her desires above all, those of a young woman very determined to “losing your virginity”. Page after page, she had recorded the metamorphosis of her body and the expectation of sex to come, the terror of doing it wrong and the desperate search for answers (“What did they say about Skyrock, again? »), his number one fantasies (an cunnilingus handcuffed to the bed) and number two (that his parents separate), gestures of solidarity and demeaning looks, the happiness of fiery declarations (MSN generation, Nokia 3310 passion) and the abyss of the first heartbreak…

retrospective guilt

Rediscovering this archive for herself, guessing that this diary could now reach other teenagers, Lucie Mikaelian began by posting excerpts from it on Instagram. Then she made a podcast with the producer Jeanne Boëzec, who therefore also became the co-screenwriter of the graphic novel that appears. Illustrated by Lisa Chetteau, this book draws its strength from the ironic and emotional gaze that a woman can cast on her “year of awakening” at the turn of the century.

In the meantime, she insists, there has been the release of a new feminist voice, with which her autobiographical material does not entirely fit. In comics, moreover, a whole series of notations come to strike the adolescent of formerly with a retrospective guilt. At 14, she had a poster of lolita of Stanley Kubrick in his room? An asterisk indicates that there is a “icon that will prove problematic”. At 14, she copied a quote from Woody Allen on masturbation? Another asterisk hastens to correct “Obviously I didn’t know what Woody Allen could be blamed for at that time…” Page after page, the Lucia of 2023, which adheres to the feminist discourse of our time, struggles to accommodate the Lucia of 2003, whose complexity partially resists it. This self-discordance is not the least interest of a book whose humor makes it possible to reconcile two sincerities, that of yesterday and that of today.

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