Raina Telgemeier. Graphix, $24.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-545-85251-7
With disarming candor and in her now instantly recognizable panel artwork, Eisner Award–winner Telgemeier weaves a tangle of personal preadolescent traumas into another compelling graphic memoir. A bout of stomach flu and some unpleasant encounters with food create in young Raina’s mind a swirling miasma of fear that she’ll throw up. This anxiety blights her school days (she freezes during a class presentation with her best friend and lashes out at a bullying schoolmate) and extends into fears about sickness and schoolwork, and frustrations with her raucous household. Telgemeier frames the girl’s panic attacks accessibly as sickly circles of green crowded with big, blocky words (“pain drowning choking death bad at math”). Raina’s parents take her to see therapist Lauren, who helps her to ground her fears and gain enough emotional strength to reconcile herself to changing friend dynamics, and an IBS diagnosis clarifies the way that mind and body can intertwine. Moments of elementary school drama are portrayed with credibility, and the story both normalizes therapy and shows a child developing useful coping mechanisms for anxiety in a way that will reassure, even inspire, readers. Ages 8–12. [em](Sept.) [/em] Correction: A previous version of this review misstated the characters as being in middle school.
Reviewed on: 05/09/2019