Thursday, April 18, 2013

Susan's Book Review: Drama by Raina Telgemeier

Drama is a graphic novel that chronicles the story of Callie and the Eucalyptus Middle School’s production of Moon Over Mississippi. (I’m not a big fan of live theatre--it makes me too nervous--and just assumed I’d never heard of that play, but according to Google it’s not real!) Callie has loved the stage since her mom took her to see Les Miserables. At first she wanted to perform (Cosette specifically), but after realizing the limitations of her voice, she turned her talents behind the scenes. Now in 7th grade, she is in charge of set design and takes it very seriously, trying to do as much as possible with the time and budget allotted. For Moon Over Mississippi, that involves building a cannon!


The book is cleverly arranged and paced like a theatre production with an overture, different acts, an intermission—the whole bit. I really enjoyed Telgemeier’s illustration style and think she does a fantastic job of making the characters in Drama look and act like real, current teens (from their clothing to the use of texting, chatting, and other technology.) At first I thought the story was lame compared to the art, but she won me over largely by making Callie so relatable. I adore passionate people and Callie’s love of the theatre is infectious. She got me interested in what’s going on backstage since there is arguably more drama happening there!


There are a lot of crushes in DramaBonnie and West, Justin and West, Callie and Greg, Callie and Jesse, etc.--and I had to reread a few sections to keep everything straight (twins play a major part and that got confusing). There are several panels where Callie sends a text and anxiously awaits a response that made me want to hug her! Homosexuality is sensitively addressed and presented in a realistic way that I think echoes most teens’ attitude about it. Callie’s in-love-with-this-boy-no-I-mean-this-one is so typical of the teen years and in one of my favorite scenes, she surprises me by turning down a crush that’s finally starting crushing on her.


I was not in the drama department in high school and only on the fringe of it in college, but I’ve had friends who were very involved and I kept thinking how much they’d like reliving it via this book. Drama is intended for a young teen/middle school audience, but I think anyone who’s spent time in the theatre world could relate to it and nearly anyone else could enjoy it! I would love a Callie encore, maybe about her experience as the 8th grade student stage manager of next year’s production?


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