As mentioned before, I grabbed a few graphic novels from the library to add to the Book-a-Days, but they are not necessarily the ones from the TBR. Then again, I was bound to eventually read this Raina Telgemeier as well as the other review you have coming, Anne of Green Gables: a Graphic Novel.
I have read all of Telgemeier’s other graphic novels, and I find that my reaction to this new one, Ghosts, falls right in line. When I realized that her new novel was about a child with a genetic disease framed by the Day of the Dead, I was not enthusiastic. The reason? Kids with chronic diseases or deformities is a thing in YA literature right now, and Dia de los Muertes seems to be a national entertainment obsession. The idea, though important, felt stale.
Not when I read it, though. Telgemeier made everything in this book–dealing with degenerative disease, Mexican holidays, family, first love, friendship, moving–feel fresh. In so few words, you feel close to these characters and you get wrapped up in their story.
The contrast between a child with a fatal illness and the presence of ghosts, though, can be a bit disconcerting. Using magic realism can be an effective way to peel back the layers and deal with reality, but its use has to be deft. I think that Telgemeier mostly accomplished something special here, with the more obvious sick-girl-meeting-ghosts versus reality-versus-fantasy. All in all that’s what I would call this book: special. Playful and poignant.
Although I really enjoy Telgemeier’s handling of story and character, I still have the same complaint that her illustrations are, while clean, also simplistic. Especially when compared to the depth of her sketches, they feel a little too cartoony for the story and its intended audience. Meanwhile, middle grades and YA readers keep reaching for the Telgemeier, and she remains a force to be reckoned with in graphic novels.
THE OTHER REVIEWS: