For someone who reads as many young adult books as I do, I have to admit that very few of them bring me back to my own angst-ridden middle school days. I love many of the stories and they make me think of kids I know – or knew. But it’s rare for one to make me remember that mix of excitement and confusion and uncertainty that are hallmarks of the middle school years.
This morning I read Drama, Raina Telgemeier’s new graphic novel, and it was on page 12, that I had that recognizable pang of recognition. Callie, the sweet but awkward heroine, really wants to be in charge of the design of the school play. In an effort to show how much she knows about set design she overdoes it a bit. “I’ve never seen a live production of Moon Over Mississippi, but I’ve got the deluxe edition soundtrack, which has a ton of photos from the original broadway production, and they built this amazing….”
Her friend interrupts: “Okay, Callie, we get it.”
Ouch. That hurts. I know exactly how Callie felt. Not that I ever wanted to design a set, but that’s kind of beside the point. It’s Callie’s recognizable effort of trying to fit in that hit so close to home.
I kept reading and didn’t stop until the last page. Callie has big ideas – cannons and giant magnolia trees. But her ideas are way beyond the reality of the budget. Of course, that doesn’t diminish her enthusiasm. As opening day approaches, Callie has awkward moments with friends, memories of her childhood love of theater, and a few victorious moments.
Callie – and Raina Telgemeier – deserve standing ovations!