Book review: Ghosts, by Raina Telgemeier

Telgemeier, Raina. Ghosts. Graphix/Scholastic, 2016. $10.99. 246p. ISBN 978-0-545-54062-9. Ages 9-12. P9Q9

telgemeier-ghostsIn her graphic novels, Telgemeier realistically addresses issues important to young people in a poignant yet humorous way. Smile was about being teased, and Drama included hormonal mood swings and crushes. Cystic fibrosis and death are topics in her newest book as a mixed-race Latino family moves north from sunny southern California to the cold, wet coast. Middle-schooler Catrina, Cat for short, knows that they have to do it for the health of younger sister Maya, who suffers from cystic fibrosis, but she resents losing her friends and adapting to a new climate. In addition, spirits inhabit the small town, and people seem to be obsessed with them. These ghosts make Cat think about death, and she fears the loss of Maya. Some of the dialog about death comes from the Mexican spirits and the living who relate them on the Day of the Dead. Fortunately, Maya and Carlos, a boy who tries to befriend Cat, lead her to an ability to cope with her fears.

Verdict: This sometimes whimsical but always thoughtful graphic novel replete with magical realism is a marvelous blend of themes—the love of sisters, the fear of loss and death, cultural assimilation, and discovery of heritage—in a mix of exuberance, joy, and sadness.

January 2017 review by Nel Ward.

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