As the title suggests, this graphic novel centers around a middle school theater production. This year, the school play is Moon Over Mississippi, a Civil War musical full of romance and drama. Of course, there's even more drama off-stage than on, which is super accurate for theater productions everywhere, I think. I love how much detail there was into the production of the costumes, the set, the lighting, etc. The characters really got to show off their passions, and the theatrical stuff was obviously important and not just there to serve as a backdrop to the romantic drama.
When the story opens, the heroine, Callie, is walking home from school with Matt, her friend and also the lighting designer, and Greg, his baseball-playing brother. Greg has just been dumped by his girlfriend Bonnie, and Callie, who has had a crush on him for a while, goes for the opportunity. I freaking love that Callie is the kind of girl who goes for what she wants, who will risk embarrassment or rejection. I'm not like that, but I really admire her for it. She's also the kind of girl who will get up on stage and audition (badly) to make a friend feel better. Callie has serious guts.
Unfortunately, things don't turn out quite the way she hoped. Rather than making her his girlfriend the next day, Greg ignores her and, when she confronts him, tells her that he's getting back together with Bonnie. She doesn't have too much time to mope, however, because she has big dreams for her set design and plenty of work to do to achieve them. Also, she meets cute twin brothers, Jesse and Justin, interested in helping out in the theater.
Drama captures the emotional confusion of high school and the limited time span of middle school crushes. When I was that age, like the characters here, I had SO MANY CRUSHES. Seriously, I had like no type at all. That's one thing that rings false in a lot of the YA books that I read: the characters are always so set on one person and in love forever. Let's be honest, most teens have so not made up their mind, attention drifting from one person to another. Callie feels drawn to several different guys, and some of the other characters are also unsure which romantic interest to pursue. On top of that, the story is totally lgbt-friendly, which I love.
If you like theater and cuteness, I definitely recommend Drama. It's such a quick read and it made me smile many times.
So I was really excited while at ALA12 in Anaheim, Ca, I was able to grab a galley of Telgemeier's companion novel DRAMA.
Let's just say I totally loved this novel. First off, the characters are diverse and felt like people I knew while in middle school. Callie's struggles to let the one boy know she really likes him and then the heartbreak of his reaction brought back memories. I especially loved how the author captures how volatile middle school is with trying to fit in to the whole first crush. I also was happy to see that a gay character is included. And the one scene where he takes over the show is brilliant.
My own tween was in theater this last school year and I know tweens will enjoy and relate to the whole process of auditioning to all that goes behind the scenes. The jealousies of friends liking the same boy or girl is part of the middle grade process too. Who can't remember how one week you liked one person only to 'fall out of love' the next week?
The illustrations are filled with emotion and add to the story too. Let's just say DRAMA had me smiling! I predict this graphic novel will be a winner just like Telgemeier's first novel SMILE.
A sure bet for reluctant readers and fans of graphic tales that don't preach but rather capture the spirit of middle school with all the trials, struggles, and joys.
2. Loved how diverse the characters are
Although I liked the book it was hard to tell which character was which because there were so many. But other than that I thought it was good and it had a very different ending that was not what I had thought. It did get boring at some spots, but it was interesting because I have never done anything like set designer. So to me the book was great over all. I would recommend it to grades probably 4-8. Callie is the maine character in the book and there are many other to. I would also recommend that if you want a lot of characters in the book and you like theater than this is the book for you!
Drama is short, but Raina Telgemeier packs so much into it. There's new love, confused love, best friends, guy friends, and even some self-discovery. And while the story focuses mainly on Callie you really get a feel for all the other characters and delve into some of the stuff they're going through as well. It's amazing how well a story set over the course of a year can flow when done right. It never really felt rushed either. I had time to process and experiences the emotions so I actually felt sucked into the story rather than a simple passerby.
The Nutshell: The art is awesome. The story is awesome. The characters are awesome. Are we sensing a pattern here? Basically what I'm saying is: Drama is nothing short of awesome and since it's a quick read, what have you got to lose?
After reading the "most helpful negative review" on Amazon I'm appalled. I think it's amazing that Raina tackles such heavy issues for a young audience. The parents in the comments on this review are agreeing with the original reviewer saying this topic is too heavy for the age the book targets and that "sexual issues" are a sensitive subject for parents. I'm sorry, but I don't believe one's orientation is an issue. And I'd also like to point out there is nothing "sexual" in this story. There is kissing for goodness sake and, yeah, seventh graders do that!
This line is probably what gets me the most from the review, though:
"While other reviewers may feel this story line is something kids today face on a daily basis, I disagree. Sure, some kids may deal with it, but it's not the norm."
What. The. Freaking. Heck. It /does/ happen to kids today and I think it's a very important issue to address. The way it's handled in the story is fantastic and I think the world would be a better place if these commenting (and reviewing) parents would raise their children in a similar fashion rather than in a way that makes them uncomfortable to read the story.
I wouldn't be surprised if Drama started ending up on banned books lists. But we all know those are some of the best ones, now don't we?