Guts is an outstanding book, plain and simple–which should surprise no one who has read any of Raina Telgemeier’s other graphic novels (Smile, Drama, Sisters, Ghosts, etc.). This San Francisco-based writer and illustrator has a true genius for getting under the skin of elementary school students, who lurch from classroom to cafeteria to playground to home in a dizzying race towards middle school.
There is a very specific reason WHY Telgemeier knows her subject so well: her go-to protagonist is her 10-year-old self. Basically, young Raina has severe eating and digestion issues, forcing her to navigate her way towards wellness while coping with the adults and peers in her life. She makes it, but it is sometimes tough sledding. Out of young Raina’s story, two “True, that!” statements emerge:
1. Telgemeier fearlessly reveals childhood traumas and triumphs like no one else. Not that there aren’t plenty of other authors plying this terrain, in both graphic novel and chapter book formats—but there is something unfailingly fresh and original about her take on a difficult past.
2. She really makes graphic novels raise their game. Her books are largely why youth librarians console parents anxious about their children’s fondness for the genre: Telgemeier is proof that the graphic novel format can host robust, challenging storytelling worthy of its readers.
Guts is, predictably, proving phenomenally popular, so if you’re at all interested in checking it out, please place that “hold” as soon as you can!