Raina can’t think of anything more annoying than her younger sister, Amara. Why did she ask her parents for a little sister anyways? All she does is ruin things. And she likes snakes, something Raina hates.
But on a family road trip and reunion, Raina and Amara will be forced to stay in the close quarters of the van for a whole week. A house is barely enough to contain the sisters and their arguments—how can they last the trip?
The story is very slice of life, and in that way it can get very predictable, and that made the story sort of bland. I definitely prefer her first graphic novel, Smile, better. In way, it’s not really about what the sisters do…it’s their interaction with each other. And the plot steers them into interaction. So, I’m just going to cut to that.
Funnily enough, Raina’s family is similar to my own. I’m the eldest of three siblings: a younger sister by 2 years, and a younger brother by 5 years.
So it’s probably no surprise that I identify with Raina pretty well. But the character development of the two sisters follows a logical pattern, that’s really simple and yet very emotional.
What I like best about the character development is that while the sisters are very clearly distanced in terms of their relationship, they still find a sort of solace in each other.
Since this is a graphic novel, I thought I’d remark on both the writing and art style. Most of the writing in the novel is dialogue, which is fairly natural and simple. No complaints nor honorable mentions.
As for Telgemeier’s art style, that’s where most of the storytelling is done. With simple lines, she can depict several different expressions. I also like how she alters her palette to a more sepia tone for flashbacks.
Obviously, this book is about siblings. It’s very much, “you don’t choose your family, but you still love them anyway.” It’s a sweet little story about how siblings have that love/hate relationship of competition, adoration, the need to annoy, and reliance. And I don’t mind a simple story like that. But that’s the bottom line: it’s just simple. Nothing problematic, but nothing really special either.
Recommendation: Read. Telgemeier’s graphic novel series is perfect for her target audience, and is a really important story for people with siblings. Definitely recommend it for youth, especially those who feel distanced from their siblings.