Raina Telgemeier’s GHOSTS introduces a moving tale of sisters. Cat and Maya have a loving, though often strained, relationship, which is challenged in a new way when the family moves to a new place. Maya has cystic fibrosis, and Telgemeier includes several scenes of Maya having treatments and some of the day-to-day lifestyles those with this illness have. Maya is not defined only by her illness, however. It is part of her, a part that is purposefully shown, just as her energetic personality, love for her family, and enthusiasm for adventure are. Cat, who does not have cystic fibrosis, worries for her sister frequently, and it is this worry that leads to Cat’s fears, often causing a rift between her and her sister.
They have ups and downs in their relationship as most siblings do, but under it all is a deep love and respect for each other. Both take to their new environment differently. I especially enjoy Cat’s hesitancy, even all out refusal, towards the change. Moves that involve new schools and distance from friends can be particularly difficult, and Cat feels this. We see her anger and frustration, but we also see her slowly open up to her neighbors and her town, as she learns that a little kindness and openness can go a long way.
However, I would encourage people to read the following discussions about the representation of the Indigenous ghosts and the use of the Day of the Dead in GHOSTS: American Indians in Children’s Literature’s review (https://americanindiansinchildrensliterature.blogspot.com/2016/09/not-recommended-ghosts-by-raina.html) and Reading While White’s post (http://readingwhilewhite.blogspot.com/2016/09/on-ghosts-and-magic-of-day-of-dead.html). While there are several parts of this graphic novel to love, that does not mean it is without flaw and error, and potential readers should be sure to be aware of this beforehand.