Telgemeier’s stirring graphic novel opens on moving day, as Cat’s family travels from Southern California to Bahía de la Luna, a foggy village up the coast; Cat’s younger sister, Maya, has cystic fibrosis and needs the sea air. While Cat is the worrier in the family, chronically ill Maya is an irrepressible optimist, her zest captured in the lyrics of her favorite song: “Let it out, let it out.... Can’t hold it in, gotta shout.” The village is obsessed with ghosts; their neighbor gives ghost tours, and there’s an annual Día de los Muertos celebration. What’s more, the ghosts are real. Telgemeier’s floaty, sea green, protoplasmic beings are just as appealing as her human characters. They worry, grieve, and make jokes, and it’s in learning to interact with them that Cat and Maya start to face the possibility that Maya might die. The complex relationship between the sisters is richly drawn—each feels almost unbearable compassion for the other’s weakness. “José,” Maya tells a child ghost, “if I die, Cat will be all alone. She’s terrible at making friends.” In her treatment of illness and death, Telgemeier (Sisters) nudges readers toward the edge of their comfort zone, but she never leaves them alone there. The story is consistently engaging, the plot is tightly built, and—as always—Telgemeier excels at capturing facial expressions, as when Maya’s oxygen tube shocks Cat’s new friends, or when Cat’s cool façade melts into ecstasy as she tastes her neighbors’ Mexican cooking. Death means sadness and loss, Cat and Maya learn, but it doesn’t mean the end of love. Ages 8–12. Agent: Judith Hansen, Hansen Literary. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 06/06/2016 Release date: 09/13/2016 Genre: Children's
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