Friday, December 13, 2019

Graphic Memoir Review: Guts

I loved Raina Telgemeier's first two middle-grade graphic memoirs about her childhood, Smile and Sisters (as well as her graphic novel, Drama), so I was excited to see a new book released, Guts. This graphic memoir is all about her experiences as a middle-grader dealing with chronic stomach problems and anxiety. Like the others, it is honest, warm, and funny, as well as a great way to talk to kids about a difficult topic.

The book starts with young Raina and her mom both getting a stomach virus, never a pleasant experience for anyone! Afterward though, Raina develops a phobia about vomit and some lingering stomach pains and upset, though the doctor can find nothing wrong. Raina tries to live her life--going to school, spending time with friends, eating meals with her family--but her symptoms get worse and worse, and her fears and anxieties expand. Now, she's worrying about friends, school, food, and just about every aspect of her life and adopting strange coping mechanisms, in a fruitless effort to have more control over her life. Eventually, she is diagnosed with IBS and anxiety, gets some help from a therapist, and finally opens up to her friends.
A sample page from Guts by Raina Telgemeier

As with all of Raina's memoirs, it is refreshing to see the matter-of-fact way that she addresses problems that many kids deal with but don't want to talk about. In fact, this book would make a great starting point for kids who themselves experience similar issues and don't know how to open up about what they're feeling. The book also provides a roadmap for healthy coping: talking to your parents, seeing a doctor, working with a therapist, and trusting your friends. And, besides, this book is also humorous and a lot of fun! As always, Raina imbues her real-life account with plenty of laughs and her trademark colorful, realistic drawings that help to bring the story to life. This is another winner from Raina Telgemeier, whether you and your kids are looking for support and encouragement or just plain old entertainment.

211 pages, Graphix (Scholastic)

You can purchase Guts from an independent bookstore, either locally or online, here:
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Or you can order Guts from Book Depository, with free shipping worldwide.


  1. Boy, I wish we'd had this book for my daughter who had a vomiting phobia at age 7 (and again at 12) that spiraled out of control. Knowing she wasn't alone and that there was hope to get better would really have helped. I think.

    1. Oh, wow - too bad this book wasn't around back then! Several young people in our family are struggling with anxiety so I was thinking of them. They're all a little old for this book, though.