Rummanah Aasi
 In 2011, I thoroughly enjoyed reading Smile by Raina Telgemier and have been recommending it to readers of all ages and genders. So when I saw the graphic novelist write another book, I jumped at the chance to read it. Though geared particularly to junior students with issues of crushes, friendship, and sexual identity, I think it would be welcomed with many readers just like Smile

Description: Callie rides an emotional roller coaster while serving on the stage crew for a middle school production of Moon over Mississippi as various relationships start and end, and others never quite get going.

Review: Callie is a middle schooler who loves the theater. Though she knows she can't participate as an actress since she doesn't have the vocal talent, Callie is fine being the set manager. When her school puts on one of her favorite musicals, Callie volunteers as part of the stage crew with a promise that she will wow everyone. She goes all out to make the most dramatic and memorable stage scenes. Not only is there a lot of drama onstage, there is even more backstage as Callie navigates her capricious, hormone driven heart. 
 Callie is an endearing protagonist. She reminds us of ourselves during the weird transition phase that is called middle school. She is neither the most popular nor the prettiest of her class, but an ordinary girl who is passionate about her favorite subject. Like her middle school status, her ever changing crushes is common. Telegeimer handles the complexities of young love with honesty, comedy, and warmth in equal measures. We see Callie go from from being so excited to be with her long-time crush to being very sad as she feels like a wet towel when her crush drops her and gets back with his girlfriend and his brother, who seems have a thing for Callie, all of sudden gives her the cold shoulder. Callie's attention is now drawn to two new students who happen to be twin brothers. Callie's feelings for the brothers as they become closer pin back and forth between friendship and crush. 
  Telegeimer ventures into the murky waters of young tweens trying to discover their own sexual identity and she swims it quite well. We find out certain characters are gay while others are still questioning or uncertain. Sexual identity while explored and pondered by the characters don't overtake the story and as a reader you are simply rooting for the characters to be themselves and hope that whatever choice they make they will be happy. I'm glad that tweens and teens have a graphic novel like Drama that not only have warm colors and stylish art work, but a story that is open and has a welcoming yet realistic, sympathetic story that shows how complicated relationships can be. There is no doubt that Telgemeier has a keen eye for young teen life.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: None. I think this graphic novel is geared towards to middle school and up where kids are discovering themselves including their sexual orientation. Recommended for Grades 6 and up.

If you like this book try: Friends with Boys by Faith Erin Hicks, Re-Gifters by Mike Carey
5 Responses
  1. Jenny Says:

    I saw the title of this post in my blogroll and thought "uh oh, what drama does Rummanah have going on in her life?" Obviously that's not what this post is about:) This sounds like a fabulous graphic novel for tweens and teens, and I like that it focuses on all the confusion and uncertainty of that age:) Fabulous review!


  2. TBR's Says:

    Oh I remember middle school.....I hated it!!! I think its funny lately since I now have a middle schooler Im finding it more difficult to relate to them....:( Maybe I should read this one.


  3. Sounds interesting. Especially that they explore sexual identity. You don't see that much in books geared towards middle school. it sounds like this book would handle the issue well.


  4. Sounds like a great book for my middle grader.

    Heather


  5. I had to laugh at Jenny's comment since I kind of assumed the same thing. This one sounds a bit young for me to read but I do think it would be great for its target audience.


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