Don’t let the name fool you; you don’t need to be a sister or to have a sister in order to enjoy Sisters. The subject of Raina Telgemeier’s newest graphic novel is in a way just siblings, but hey lonely only child that may be reading this you now get to see what you missed out on. Now I didn’t read Telgemeier’s first graphic novel Smile, but fear not you don’t need to have to understand and follow Sisters. The story does a wonderful job of introducing to Telgemeier’s family, that’s right this is autobiographical. This easiest way to do this is a family dinner. We meet her mom and dad, her sister Amara and her brother Will. We also learn that the family is driving to a family reunion in Colorado which is where the catalyst for the story.
From the get-go it’s clear that Raina and Amara don’t get along and this leads to a flashback of Raina asking for a sister so she’d have someone to play with. It’s a cute flashback which really captures all first-born children’s desires to have a sibling, but of course the phrase, “Be careful what you wish for” should follow that. As an older brother who didn’t get along with his younger brother for many years I know what I’m talking about. Granted it turned out pretty great in the end, but when you’re a kid you don’t know that.
After this we see the family load up in the VW van and head from San Francisco to Colorado Springs. On a personal note I found this drive to be very relatable since I have done the opposite many a time with my family. The story doesn’t get distracted by this though and instead keeps the focus on Raina and Amara’s relationship throughout the course of the road trip.
In my opinion it takes a talented storyteller to peer into one’s own life and tell an interesting story in a graphic novel. The problem with your own life as the subject matter is that you can easily dive into analyzing your past rather than telling an interesting narrative, but Telgemeier never falters and really if you didn’t know that it was about her life… well you wouldn’t know.
Before I get into the art there was one line that made me give off a hearty laugh, “Pssh. Those aren’t real comics.” This happens in a scene between Raina and her cousins in which she says she reads comics and lists comic strips. I’m not saying I’ve had a similar experience, but I’ve heard this line before. The strange thing is that until I got heavy into comics I always considered comics strips… comics. They were different styles, but the same wheelhouse. I think a lot of people will appreciate this line the way I did.
With that said the art is a lot like a comic strip. It has a distinct style and really if it were a comic strip I would read it. There’s a lot of detail, but it’s not overly detailed. What I love about Telgemeier’s style is the way she shifts between large oval eyes and just simple dots for the eyes. It’s not exactly noticeable because the shift back and forth is constant and just part of the style, but it definitely played a factor in making it look like a comic strip. The coloring from what I saw was rich and vibrant and really made the book stand out.
I really didn’t know what to expect with Sisters or if it would be for me, but that’s the charm of this story… it’s for anyone that’s every had a family. If you’re looking for a great all-ages read that may even remind you a bit of growing up, then check out Sisters.
Writer/Artist/Creator: Raina Telgemeier Colorist: Braden Lamb Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic Price: $10.99 Release Date: 8/26/14