Raina Telgemeier is the Children’s Laureate of Graphic Novels. Her books are the bestselling graphic novels in America because they matter to children. Guts is her latest and continues her streak of stories that explore childhood fears and anxieties.
Guts is about stomach trouble and fear of illness. It starts with young Raina and her mother getting food poisoning and puking their guts out. Even though they get better, Raina develops massive anxiety about stomach problems, about puking and all the messy bodily functions. She’s terrified this is her new normal, that it’ll turn her into a social pariah in school. Her sister trolls her mercilessly because she just loves to torture her. Her friends tease her in school. She’s afraid nothing will ever be normal again and she could get sick at any moment. She’s afraid of eating foods she associates with sickness.
How Raina Telegemeier Works Her Magic
The way Raina Telgemeier tells a story, there is no separation between Young Raina and you the reader. You are her. As Raina, you suffer every fear, every drop of paranoia, every phobia. Raina is afraid everyone at school will think she’s a freak. You are led by the hand through every stage of her fears as she moves toward understanding her own fears. Like Raina, you will emerge through that crucible and understand the feelings of the other kids, including the one who tormented you because she’s coping with her own problems that are beyond just a fear. A Raina Telgemeier book is an empathy machine that knows how you feel and teaches you how to move your way through your feelings into a greater understanding. She knows life is tough and she’s here to show you how it’s going to be okay.
I’ve witnessed how deeply children love Raina Telgemeier’s books and it’s easy to see why. There’s nothing fake or cynical about her stories. Kids can tell that she gets them. She knows what’s in their heads and how it feels to be them because she was one of them. She remembers what it was like when life was weird and unpredictable and everything felt like life or death. When her publisher’s PR person and editor gave me an advance reader’s copy so I could write this review, they asked me to hide it because any kids who saw it would go nuts for it. That was no exaggeration. We were at a signing and the kids there were already geeking out over her previous books Drama, Sisters and Smile. These are books they treasure and Guts will soon join the list.
Guts is published by Scholastic Books and now available from bookstores.