Thursday, December 11, 2014

Middle-Grade/Teen Review: Sisters

I enjoyed Raina Telgemeier’s graphic novel Drama but missed her highly-acclaimed graphic memoir Smile. So, I was glad for the chance to review its sequel, Sisters, another excellent graphic memoir for middle-grade readers (and appealing to teens as well).

Sisters focuses on young teen Raina and her younger sister, Amara. As a young girl, Raina begged her parents for a sister, but things between her and Amara have been rocky ever since. As the memoir opens, Raina, Amara, and their mother are getting ready for a long road trip from their home in California to a family reunion in Colorado. That’s right – three weeks in the car with the sister whom she fights with constantly (as well as their little brother). To make matters worse, adolescent Raina is worried about what her cousins will think of her, since she hasn’t seen them in many years.

Raina and Amara’s nonstop bickering and Raina’s insecurities aren’t the only tensions in this story, though. Through flashbacks and scenes of getting ready for the trip, it’s obvious that things are also stressful between Raina’s mom and dad. This is one of the many strengths of Telgemeier’s latest book – there are many layers of emotion here, despite the colorful, fun cartoon style of the drawings. It’s a meaty story about underlying tensions in a family and how they affect all family members.

All in all, Sisters is a clever, funny, warm graphic memoir with plenty of emotional depth. It tells the real-life story of a typical family, with marital tensions and sibling rivalry…but also plenty of fun and love. The drawings are filled with telling details that often provide even more information than the text. The overall tone is warm and fun with an undercurrent of serious issues. Younger kids will simply enjoy the story, while older kids and teens (and adults, like me!) may see aspects of themselves in this universal story about family and sisters. And, I also enjoyed the photos of the real-life Raina and Amara at the back!

197 pages, Graphix (an imprint of Scholastic)

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