by Mollie McFarland, Springville Road Regional Branch Library
Catrina and her family are moving to a gloomy coastal town called Bahía de la Luna in Northern California. She’s bummed about leaving her friends and cheerful weather of her former home, but they’ve got to move to improve her sister’s health. Maya has cystic fibrosis and her doctors recommended a change so Maya can enjoy the cool and salty air of the coast. Catrina tries to put on a brave face but she can’t get over her homesickness. When the sisters go exploring, a neighbor reveals an unbelievable secret. Ghosts are real. They walk among the living and reunite with their loved ones during the town’s Day of the Dead festival. The sisters are fascinated and terrified when she meets the spirits face to face. Maya is desperate to talk to the spirits, but Catrina knows they could make her even sicker. Maybe even kill her! It’s up to Catrina to keep her sister safe, no matter what, but she’s got her work cut out for her. Fitting in is hard enough when you move to a new town, a life and death struggle with the spirits of the dead, and a sick little sister might be more than she can handle.
This middle-grade graphic novel has something for everyone. The signature artwork of Raina Telgemeier is colorful, expressive, and compelling. The familiar perspective of a pre-teen girl will draw in longtime fans and first time readers while the whimsy and paranormal plot draws readers deeper into a world where the lines between life and death are blurred. While her earlier works deal with issues that are relevant to tweens and teens, this book delves into more serious issues like illness and death. The beauty of Telgemeier’s work is that she explores these serious topics with honesty and levity. This is also a great introduction to Hispanic culture and the Day of the Dead festival. I was able to read it in one sitting. It had me laughing, smiling, and even crying a little. It’s a lovely story about the power of love.