Sunday, September 18, 2016

Ghosts - Raina Telgemeier

Title: Ghosts
Author: Raina Telgemeier
Publisher: Graphix (Scholastic), 2016 (Paperback)
Length: 240 pages
Genre: Children's Fantasy/Realistic Fiction, Graphic Novel
Started: September 17, 2016
Finished: September 17, 2016

From the back cover:

There's something different about this town...

Catrina and her family are moving to the coast of Northern California because her little sister, Maya, is sick. Cat isn't happy about leaving her friends for Bahia de la Luna, but Maya has cystic fibrosis and will benefit from the cool, salty air that blows in from the sea. As the girls explore their new home, a neighbour lets them in on a secret: there are ghosts in Bahia de la Luna. Maya is determined to meet one, but Cat wants nothing to do with them. As the time of year when ghosts reunite with their loved ones approaches, Cat must figure out how to put aside her fears for her sister's sake - and her own.

Raina Telgemeier has masterfully created a moving and insightful story about the power of family and friendship, and how it gives us the courage to do what we never thought possible.

As a teacher, Raina Telgemeier's books are a staple in classroom libraries, not only because they're kid-friendly stories that feature female protagonists (you'd be amazed at how rare that is in kids' graphic novels) but that they're just simply amazing stories of growing up. Smile, its sequel Sisters, Drama, and now Ghosts are all engaging pieces with a wonderful art style.

Catrina's family has moved further north from their California home for the benefit of her younger sister, Maya. Carlos, the new neighbours' son, tells them of the supernatural aura that permeates their new town, and Maya is ecstatic over the news. Cat definitely does not want to meet any of the ghosts that inhabit their new home, but begrudgingly goes along with things when Maya claims she wants to ask the ghosts what happens when you die. When something goes wrong and Maya is hospitalized, Cat rejects not only the spiritual aspects of Bahia de la Luna but the cultural as well. Cat's mother is Mexican American (their dad is white), but their family isn't really in touch with their Mexican heritage, so when the whole town is planning to attend a Dia de los Muertos event that features the town's ghosts, Cat definitely isn't interested. But when Maya begs Cat to attend in her place, Cat must reconnect with her culture and reconcile her fears for the sake of her sister.

This new story not only has the author's trademark awkward story of a girl growing up, but it also enters into the realm of the metaphysical. It's established that there is no cure for Maya's cystic fibrosis and that she will eventually die, this is even acknowledged by her several times in the story. Maya even dressed up as an angel for Halloween, which makes it particularly poignant, and asks Cat if she'll be afraid of her ghost when she dies. Cat realizes that the town ghosts are simply spirits of loved ones and don't mean her any harm. The artwork is very appealing, the characters realistic and the story engaging.

Definitely worth picking up, and definitely if you're a fan of the author's works already, in this case I think this is the best of her books to date.

Thoughts on the cover:
Definitely fitting, but I would've liked something a little more dynamic.

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