I always look forward to Telgemeier's work. She has been an incredibly bright addition to the growing middle-grade and young adult graphic novel landscape.
Before I get into the plot and the writing itself, I will remark that Telgemeier's cartooning style has progressively gotten better throughout her work, and this is her most detailed, beautiful, and lively contribution to the graphic novel genre to date. You can see not only the scope of her art grow with some of the most detailed and vibrant spreads of her career, but also a tremendous evolution of the personalities and emotions of her characters. Even without the text, we see and feel the full range of emotions being delivered in each panel.
Now, onto our story! Cat, our protagonist, is forced to leave her home and move to Bahia de Luna so her sister, Maya, can benefit from the sea-salt air as continued therapy for her cystic fibrosis. This is my favorite setting of any Telgemeier work, invoking beautifully illustrated glimpses of foggy coastal California, which serve as dreary, and at times spooky, backdrops to our story.
As she did so well in her previous work, Telgemeier handles complex, real-world problems with gentle sophistication so that it is both age appropriate and will push the boundaries of the young reader's comprehension of the story. For Maya and Cat, death is a specter that literally haunts the pair, not unlike the real ghosts that haunt this story, and Maya's ability to cope with both creates the drama of the story. Telgemeier walks a beautiful fine line with this graphic novel. It is a story of potential loss told from the perspective of great hope, and in the end, Telgemeier gives us a lively, engaging story that celebrates family, love and tradition. I really enjoyed this read, and highly recommend it for graphic novel fans old and new!