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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Ghosts: A Graphic Novel

I have mentioned before, and I will continue to mention, the need for children's and young adult books with protagonists of color. At BEA this year, I picked up Raina Telgemeier's Ghosts with the hope that I would enjoy it as much as I was hoping I would.

Catrina and her family are moving to Northern California where the weather is gloomy and everyone is obsessed with ghosts. Her sister, Maya, has cystic fibrosis and it's a better climate for her. Catrina is upset and is slow to make friends -- everyone in this town is crazy about All Souls Day when souls return to find their loved ones. Maya buys in immediately, and can't wait to welcome their grandmother back. Catrina agrees to go out with her friends that night and is wonderfully shocked to find that she is part of something bigger than herself.

This was an absolutely charming book. I was so wonderfully, pleasantly surprised by how moving the story was. Cat loves her sister, and Maya adores Cat. When Maya becomes direly ill and Cat blames herself, the connection between the two is so powerful yet so personal, as it's easy to relate to two sisters who love each other yet want their space. The guilt is also a familiar feeling; Cat feels guilty about Maya's illness even thought it's not her fault. This book is perfect for young adult audiences and grown ups alike.

The return of the spirits to the town is amazing to read. First of all, the graphics are outstanding, but it's really the story that got me. How Cat is able to let herself go and enjoy herself in the moment when the spirits come to visit is fun and it is touching. She is able to realize what a gift it is to be in the middle of something so big and so light, and it was amazing to watch her journey as a character end in this moment. This is a perfect book, and it was a pleasure and an honor to be able to pick it up.

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