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Raina Telgemeier
ISBN 9780545540605
Scholastic/Graphix, 2014.
5 stars
Keywords: family friendship raina-telgemeier road-trip siblings sisters

by Raina Telgemeier

Raina Telgemeier (Smile) once again mines her family history with humor and compassion, for this graphic novel memoir that centers on a road trip.

Mom, Raina, and her two siblings, Amara and Will, pack up the family van, which they'll drive from California to Colorado for Raina's mother's family reunion. Daddy will fly out to meet them. When Raina points out that her mother doesn't get along with her siblings, Amara takes that as a cue to pick a fight with Raina. "Why did I ever ask for a sister?" Raina asks herself in a thought balloon. Telgemeier segues into a memory in which she begged for a sister; she neatly signals the flashback with yellow-tinged frames around the comic strip panels, the start of a pattern. Once again, Telgemeier gets all the tempos of family life just right: arguments metamorphose into laughter; alliances shift from sisters versus brother, to Amara and Will versus Raina, and so on. Additional flashbacks explain Raina's fear of snakes (a key plot element when Amara gets one as a pet), Will's arrival and their father losing his job. This last develops especially effectively, as Telgemeier explores in a dream sequence--shrouded in purple--her feelings of fear and her need for reassurance.

Telgemeier's willingness to lay bare her vulnerabilities as a 14-year-old (including a scene of her cousins making fun of her teddy bear) will strengthen readers who also struggle to get along with their siblings and to act more "grown up."

This review first appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers.
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