Release Date: August 26, 2014
Raina can't wait to be a big sister. But once Amara is born, things aren't quite how she expected them to be. Amara is cute, but she's also a cranky, grouchy baby, and mostly prefers to play by herself. Their relationship doesn't improve much over the years, but when a baby brother enters the picture and later, something doesn't seem right between their parents, they realize they must figure out how to get along. They are sisters, after all.
Raina uses her signature humor and charm in both present-day narrative and perfectly placed flashbacks to tell the story of her relationship with her sister, which unfolds during the course of a road trip from their home in San Francisco to a family reunion in Colorado.(courtesy of Goodreads)
Raina Telgemeier is my go to author for graphic novels lately. Apart from manga, it's been a long time since I've read anything in that genre other than her books. I read Smile, which is a companion to Sisters, a few months ago and loved it. Fortunately, Sisters is just as good.
From the plot synopsis, I expected Sisters to be a bit on the younger MG side - more than Smile was. In a way it is, but both Sisters and Smile have a timeless feel to them that will appeal to 12 year olds and 32 year olds alike.
Smile was a wide-ranging book about the trials and travails of middle school / early teen life. Sisters is more contained and focuses on Amara and Raina's relationship. It switches from present day when Raina and Amara are 14 and 9 to the past.
In the past, we see 5 year old Raina begging for a sister. 6 year old Raina is not so impressed with screaming Amara who has to share her room. Their relationship develops into a love, hate, mostly hate sisterly bond for the flashbacks.
In the present day, there are more hints of teenage angst as Raina has to figure out how to deal with her similar aged cousins. The girl has grown up much faster than Raina while the boys are goofy, immature, but also unimpressed by Raina. It's a little depressing but very realistic. We see Raina and Amara squabble endlessly during their long car trip, but also bond as Raina's cousins aren't what she remembered them to be. You get hints of the close friends that the sisters will surely become as adults.
The drawing of the novel is fantastic. The story flows quickly and clearly. By seeing the characters' emotions as well as reading their dialogue, you get a much richer world than by prose alone. Since I read an ARC, most of the story was still in black and white. It was really fascinating to see just how important color is to add depth to the images. It was still wonderful without color, but it gave me a greater appreciation for the artistic quality of the finished version.
You don't need to have read Smile to read Sisters, although I highly recommend both. I enjoyed Smile a little bit more than Sisters, but that's probably because I can relate to a nerdy coming of age story better than a sisterly relationship story. Smile is something I can see myself re-reading numerous times, but Sisters not so much. It's more a statement about me than about the books though. Both stories are delightful and must reads, even for people who normally steer clear of middle grade.
Recommendation: Buy Sisters and Smile!
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