The cover of Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, + Me by Ellen Forney.
Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, + Me
Author(s): Ellen Forney
Artist(s): Ellen Forney
Category: Autobiographical, Medical
Languages: English, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Italian, French
Grade Level(s): 9-12
Mature Content?: Sex/Sexuality, Drugs, Nudity


Ellen Forney is most well known as the artist who worked with Sherman Alexie on his seminal and celebrated Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. She’s also bi-polar. Marbles takes a look at Forney’s trials and tribulations with her disease and treatment. It follows her through highs and lows, through believing that she could be cured to understanding that her condition requires constant maintenance. It’s an earnest and heartfelt look at the positives, the negatives, and grays in betweens, and it addresses numerous misconceptions about mental illness and depression.

Teaching Points:

Forney’s autobiography offers a stellar opportunity to address mental health issues and coping. It can bring up difficult conversations, but ones that are necessary and important. It also offers us a glimpse at what mania and depression feel like through adept artwork. A lesser utilized possibility is what Forney’s forays into the sexual realm offer as a chance to examine a spectrum of sexuality in the face of the traditional binary. Marbles pairs excellently with Perks of Being a Wallflower and Hyperbole and a Half. Forney’s tale is often contradictory, which allows for a much fuller, less essentialized picture of mental health. Despite its status, Marbles has few resources on how to teach it, possibly due to the difficult content.

A look inside Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, + Me by Ellen Forney.Related Resources/Lesson Plans:

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