Book Review: “Ghosts” by: Raina Telgemeier


Kathryn Coffey, Writer

From the same author who brought you the graphic novels “Smile, Sisters,” and “Drama” comes yet another heartwarming story of growth and change that is “Ghosts.”   

Judging from the title, you might think that this book would have something to do with Halloween. It does mention Halloween, yet it also mentions Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. The combination of having these holidays together creates a metaphor for Cat’s—the main character—emotional story arc. Like novels by Ruta Sepetys, Raina Telgemeier is an author whose work I love reading.   

As a fan of Telgemeier’s body of work, I can safely say that this book is another fine addition. It has what most fans would come to expect from her novels. The expressions are goofy enough to get a laugh yet relatable enough where they are not annoying or too overblown. The cartoony (Well, it’s a comic. No duh, right?) style of the characters’ designs seem to be reminiscent of not only cartoons from MGM and Warner Bros., but they also are reminiscent of cubist paintings or Mexican murals. The imagery shown in this novel is, as always, very outstanding; the colors are cool and calm but can also be vibrant and full of life.   

The most admiring aspect on Telgemeier’s books is the fact that she intertwines her home, Northern California, with her novels. The story’s setting, Bahía de la Luna, is based on the San Francisco/Northern California area where she grew up. She always considers that area to be her life-long muse, and it definitely shows.

Similarly, her family influences the stories in her novels. With “Smile” and “Sisters,” they are autobiographical accounts. Here it is a work of fiction, but the characters are just as easy to emphasize as in any of her other novels.  

The story line is no exception. Cat and the rest of her family have to move to Bahía de la Luna. Cat’s sister, Maya, had been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, and the breeze flying through the town is supposed to help her live with her illness. Maya is open to this change; she is even excited for what each day may bring. Cat is very hesitant and is closed-minded to anything to do with the town. All the while, there is a Day of the Dead celebration coming up in that town where all the ghosts get together with their loved ones and have a party. As she grows more accustomed to the town, Cat realizes that she has to overcome her fears and preconceptions of ghosts not only for her sister’s sake but for her own.

Now, Maya is one of the best characters of the novel. She was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at an early age, but it does not inhibit her spirit in any way. She is open to new experiences and wants to live her life while she still can. She also serves as Cat’s voice of reason as well as her rock .

Cat is also a decent character. In light of her sister’s illness as well as adjusting to her new home, she has so much to prove to her family as well as to herself. She may not always accept change right away, but when she does accept it, not only does the reader feel satisfied, but Cat herself discovers happiness that she never thought she would find.

The other characters are also enjoyable. Chances are that most readers know these characters or have known people who were like them, which is what makes Telgemeier’s work so enjoyable to read.

Overall, “Ghosts” is a very good read. Check it out, and prepare for the unexpected.