Author: Raina Telgemeier
Release Date: September 13
Source: Scholastic (A copy of this book was provided to me in exchange for an honest review.)
Check this book out on Goodreads.
Catrina and her family are moving to the coast of Northern California because her little sister, Maya, is sick. Cat isn’t happy about leaving her friends for Bahía de la Luna, but Maya has cystic fibrosis and will benefit from the cool, salty air that blows in from the sea. As the girls explore their new home, a neighbor lets them in on a secret: There are ghosts in Bahía de la Luna. Maya is determined to meet one, but Cat wants nothing to do with them. As the time of year when ghosts reunite with their loved ones approaches, Cat must figure out how to put aside her fears for her sister’s sake – and her own. (Source: Goodreads)
Catrina and her family move to a Northern coastal town in California because it will be good for her little sister, Maya’s, health. The town is full of people who love to talk about ghosts. Maya has cystic fibrosis, and the thought of these ghosts, and of her sister’s death scare Cat more than anything else. Maya on the other hand loves it, she wants to learn from the ghosts what will happen to her when he lungs fail her. For her sister’s sake Cat will have to learn to embrace the ghosts of the town and the culture her mother never taught them.
This book is by far Telgemeier’s greatest achievement thus far – at least of the books I’ve read. This story combines a moving dialogue, spirituality, culture, realism, and Telgemeier’s most mesmerizing art. I found the whole thing incredibly engaging and enchanting. There are lovable characters, adorable art, realism and magical realism, all bound up in one book.
Cat and Maya are a pair of really fantastic characters. Cat is relatable, she’s harsh at times, kind of scared and shy around all the new people in the town, resentful towards her family but always forgiving of Maya. I think this all combines to create this incredibly realistic person who knows without a doubt that their sister doesn’t have the same kind of future ahead that they them self will be having. Cat knows that Maya is going to die, she is terrified because she doesn’t want to lose her, and the talk of ghosts really builds onto this fear. She is scared that the ghosts will take Maya away from her. Cat is every person facing an imminent loss. Cat is exactly who I was when I was 6 years old dreading the day I would find out my uncle had died of cystic fibrosis. Cat is me at 8 hearing that news again when my aunt died of cystic fibrosis as well.
This story is incredibly personal for me. I have in my lifetime watched 2 family members die from cystic fibrosis, it was never a disease I really understood as a kid. I knew that my aunt and uncle’s lungs did not work very well, and that someday I would never get to see them again. Cat faces those same fears watching her sister dance with ghosts, but Cat and Maya also have the reassurance of these ghosts that they will never be parted. Maya, when she passes, can come to Cat for the rest of her life in spirit and be there with her. Telgemeier captures the hope that we all have of never being parted from our loved ones and the reality that the spirit of loved ones lingers on in memories and the attachments we make with physical things that remain after someone passes away. I can’t thank her enough for writing this book.
Maya has the spirited rebellion of many children, she is fiercely loving and jubilant at all times. She is curious and hopeful. She is wise beyond her years. She seeks out the ghosts to learn what will happen to her when she passes on. Another personal note: Maya reminded me of everything I ever knew my aunt to be and everything I’ve ever been told she was as a child. My aunt was loving, curious, joyous, brave, and above all else a rebel. I couldn’t help but love Maya and marvel at the realism of Telgemeier’s creation.
Ghosts has a really moving combination of the fears and hopes of these two girls along with Mexican culture, specifically Day of the Dead. I don’t know a lot about Day of the Dead beyond the very basics, but it seems that Telgemeier has done a fair bit of work to make it accurate and true to Mexican culture – at least as far as I could tell. I was incredibly fond of the combination of both this very magical and spiritual holiday with the harsh realities of terminal diseases.
The art in Ghosts is by far my favourite of Telgemeier’s thus far. Her art is always really cute and exactly the style that suits me.The really big thing for me in this book though is that Telgemeier really does an amazing job of capturing these gorgeous coastal landscapes throughout the book that kind of took my breath away at times. I really adored the art.
You absolutely have to read this book, especially if you already love Telgemeier. There was some great info about Day of the Dead and cystic fibrosis at the end of the book which was a huge plus for me. Highly recommend!