Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Ghosts, by Raina Telgemeier

Author-Artist Raina Telgemeier has addressed such teen-relevant topics as image, unrequited crushes, sibling rivalry, and general angst with light-hearted flare and painfully real humor. However, her latest book, Ghosts, moves into the much darker, more serious territory: Death. (not to say that image, unrequited crushes, and family drama aren't serious, but compared with death...well...)

It's all Maya's fault Catrina has to leave her friends and life as she knows it behind to move to the chilly, coastal town of Bahia de la Luna. Not that Cat begrudges her little sister.  She doesn't. Well...maybe a little. But she'd never say so. Maya has cystic fibrosis, a disorder that makes breathing very difficult. The windy, foggy climate of their new town is supposed to help (and Cat really wants Maya to get better). Still, because of the seriousness of Maya's illness, death is a very real thing. No one really talks about it, but it's there. Like a... Well, like a ghost that can be felt and sensed, but not seen.

Unlike the cautious, fearful Cat, Maya approaches everything about life with excitement and optimism, whether it's an encounter with a stray cat or or meeting Carlos, an older boy who leads the town's Ghost Tours. And there are A LOT of ghosts in Bahia de la Luna. Especially as the annual Day of the Dead Celebration approaches. Cat is freaked out by that idea of ghosts and death, but Maya is intrigued. Very much so. And this annoys Cat, who, at first, just doesn't get it. Readers (Cat too) will eventually learn that little girl's fascination stems from more than just simple curiosity. She honestly wants to know what happenes when people die, because people with her serious condition typically have a much shorter life span than those who are 100% healthy. 

Although Ghosts touches on some very serious topics, it's not a morbid or depressing story. Just the opposite, in fact. Themes of friendship, family, and finding one's place run strong throughout this amazing book which, in my opinion, is the author's best to date. There's even a touch of fantasy/magical realism woven in, which is something I appreciated. And, of course, there's the artwork! Telgemeier's fans won't be disappointed. Five stars! --AJB

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