She's Turning Into One Of Them! is the twenty-fourth or fifth For Better Or For Worse comic strip or newspaper cartoon collection by cartoonist Lynn Johnston. FBOFW is one of very few cartoon strips where time actually exists and the characters age and evolve as the years go by. The title of this latest For Better Or For Worse collection, She's Turning Into One Of Them, refers to the fact that the baby in the Patterson family, April, is now a teenager although I sometimes got the feeling the title referred to Lynn Johnston turning into one of them preachy people with an agenda.
This For Better Or For Worse collection is pretty good. In She's Turning Into One of Them! April is now a teenager, Liz is a first year teacher in a Northern Ontario native community, John and Elly are grandparents again as Mike and Deanna have their second child, Grandpa Patterson has aged a little more though he now has his own rock group, and Jo the photographer may finally be falling in love. Lynn Johnston can still tell a good story and some of the comic strips in this collection are excellent. Aficionados, and there are many, will notice some of Johnston's panels here are particularly well drawn, especially the closing panel on the last page of this FBOFW collection. Johnston seems to indulge her drawing skills a bit more in this collection.
At the same time, however, Lynn Johnston cannot quite make up her mind as to how to draw Liz, probably my favorite For Better Or For Worse character (unless of course it is Mike, Elly, or John). Johnston's Liz easily goes from the teenage Liz to a very mature looking, very Elly looking, woman. There is also the on again off again Moonlighting will they or won't they romance between Liz and former and now unhappily married beau Anthony. Then again, this is not something that takes anything away from enjoying She's Turning Into One Of Them.
What might turn off a few long time For Better Or For Worse fans here is how preachy this comic strip or newspaper cartoon can sometimes get. In this latest comic strip collection, Johnston has a clear message about native peoples that is rather heavy-handedly given through Liz' experience in the village. April is taking a high school class where some special needs students are being integrated and Lynn Johnston is a bit shrill about that particular subject. In many ways, what makes FBOFW such a solid newspaper comic and the reason why people's For Better Or For Worse collection more often than not includes at least half a dozen of the books, is that Johnston's comic strip has always been very good at dealing with real life issues and real life in general and the strip wears its heart on its dustjacket. But in She's Turning Into One Of Them the humor behind the strip is sometimes heavily outweighed by its message.
In many ways Lynn Johnston is at a bit of a crossroads in She's Turning Into One Of Them! Can the strip sustain at least four different storylines? Mike and Deanna are a young couple with two children, Liz is a young woman out on her own and with her first real job, Jon and Elly are getting older, and April is now a teenager close to going to high school. The high school has been dealt with in the past with Liz and Michael's stories and the young parents material has been covered in the early For Better Or For Worse collections
Although I enjoyed this For Better Or For Worse collection, I did not immediately want to read it again to see what I missed or go back to the pages I had earmarked for having a particularly great strip or two (in fact I only earmarked one). She Is Turning Into One Of Them! is an okay collection long-time fans of the series will like but I get the feeling they will go back to some of the earlier FBOFW books to get that little something missing this time.