by Raina Telgemeier
Telgemeier’s writing continues improving, and this is her greatest novel yet. Her whole body of work has been tremendously successful and multi-award-winning, thanks in part to her infectious joy and energy. Smiles and Sisters were memoirs that I felt were wonderful for pre-teens but that I still read now that I’m older. Cat, our primary heroine in Ghosts, is a tween who must leave her friends to travel to Bahia de Luna to treat her breathing-challenged sister, Maya, who has cystic fibrosis. Bahia de Luna is inspired by foggy Half Moon Bay, coastal California, a magical area, and her narrative is also influenced by Dia de Los Muertos. For the joyful Maya, the possibility of death and ghost hood is ever-present. It’s a good thing to be aware that individuals may die. Ghosts, the spirits of the people we love that Dia de Los Muertos honours, are extremely prevalent in this foggy village in this story.
A local boy named Carlos introduces Maya and Cat to spirits and a Day of the Dead celebration, and from there, we witness how each of the characters gets to know one another on a personal level, as well as how Cat and Carlos develop some romance. Ghosts is a wonderfully vivid, interesting story that celebrates family and tradition while also embracing death as a part of life. Another benefit is that Telgemeier shows an understanding of sister dynamics. I enjoy all of the characters (even the ghosts and silent spirits!). Maya, the character with cystic fibrosis, in particular. She’s spunky, charming, and a lovely younger sibling. And I could really connect to her older sister, Catrina, who is always trying to be the responsible one while still wanting to get along with everyone. Overall, Ghosts is a great escape book for me when I’m stuck for anything to read or simply want to unwind. I definitely suggest it!