Graphic novels have always had a special place in my heart, and Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier has taken my heart in its adorable fist and crushed it to smithereens.
Catrina and her family are moving to the coast of Northern California because her little sister, Maya, is sick. Cat isn’t happy about leaving her friends for Bahía de la Luna, but Maya has cystic fibrosis and will benefit from the cool, salty air that blows in from the sea. As the girls explore their new home, a neighbor lets them in on a secret: There are ghosts in Bahía de la Luna. Maya is determined to meet one, but Cat wants nothing to do with them. As the time of year when ghosts reunite with their loved ones approaches, Cat must figure out how to put aside her fears for her sister’s sake – and her own.
Raina Telgemeier has a long list of great kidlit graphic novels, including Drama, Smile, and her graphic adaptation of the Baby-Sitter’s Club. So Ghosts is another stellar addition to anyone’s library, and let me tell you, you need this book in your library.
Catrina is a great character, someone I would have heavily identified with as a kid–scared but loyal and a great big sister. Her younger sister Maya has cystic fibrosis and ends up stuck at home when she would rather be trick-or-treating or meeting ghosts in their new home in Bahía de la Luna. Bahía de la Luna is a town where the veil between the human world and the ghost world is thin, and so ghosts come into town every so often. But on Halloween night, every ghost comes into town to meet with their living family.
The art is adorable and the fact that Telgemeier shows all the little things about what it means to have cystic fibrosis is awesome; we see Maya’s nightly breathing ritual, how quickly a breathing attack can come on, how it affects Maya’s mentality about life and death. The juxtaposition of Maya’s inevitable passing and the reality of ghosts in town softens the blow that eventually Maya will leave her family in the world of the living, but it’s still so incredibly bittersweet.
Catrina grows and becomes courageous, not just for herself but also for her sister, and she meets the ghosts and makes new friends.
Ghosts by Raina Telegemeier is the perfect Halloween read for readers of any age.