Author and Artist: Raina Telgemeier
Sisters is her latest release, an autobiographical account of a family road trip from her childhood. As the title implies, the story focuses on Raina's relationship with her younger sister, Amara. But of course, that dynamic exists within a broader family context and not all is well between mom and dad.
For me, the main selling point of Telgemeier's work is the believability of her characters. Few writers possess the skill to present children, particularly adolescents, as the nuanced entities they truly are. Yes, we all know they can be moody, bratty, insecure, shallow and it's easy enough to write them that way. But the basic frustration of being in between and neither is more elusive. The kids in Telgemeier's books always feel like people I have known, or even people I have been.
The sibling relationship was central to my own adolescent experience. In the global sense we were peers but the difference between 13-year-old girl and 11-year-old boy was a yawning gap indeed. By the time my own pubescent journey began, hers was essentially over. And just as in the Raina/Amara tale, the differences were never more keenly felt than during a family vacation - in our case, a trip to Europe. Interestingly, in both their trip and ours, a teddy bear played a memorable role.
If you don't know Telgemeier's work yet, you should really get on that, especially if you have preteens milling about your home or classroom. And don't get duped into thinking they're "girl books." I don't think it matters which one you pick first. Smile is also autobiographical but the two stories are independent of one another. I was less impressed by her adaptation of the Baby-Sitters Club series but my daughter enjoys them.