And now she is grappling with the edges of parental estrangement, possibly leading to divorce, in her latest work Sisters.
Telgemeier gives us another semi-autobiographical tale, just like she did in Smile, and makes this story live comfortably in the midst of that journey.
Sisters tells of Raina, her younger sister Amara, even younger brother, and mom embarking on a long road trip in a packed minivan back in the mythical land of the 1980’s. They are heading to a family reunion, off in another state, but with their father coming along separately.
But Raina does not really register this development, and instead is focused on surviving the trip with Amara. As we see in numerous flashbacks, Raina was desperate at a young age for a little sister. Happiness over the years at Amara’s arrival and growing up dampens simply because the two do not get along very well. At all.
It seems like Raina has very much given up at this point in her early teen life on ever having a connection to Amara.
Along the way clues are dropped in the present and past that their parents are slowly also not getting along, with the travails of lack of enough living space, job loss, and absence of discipline over the children becoming simmering issues.
Telgemeier tells her tale with a completeness of emotion, covering the funniest little portions and smallest drops of pain with careful measure. The long simmering snake subplot is an example of both combining so that we can experience a trauma to young Raina which is really not a trauma.
The talented Telgemeier has done and mastered this kind of storytelling before, but for some reason, maybe because of the parental issues explored, it feels more like it has more gravitas here.
It is also fascinating, as with Smile, to see the evolution of Raina as a young artist. She is at this point well into her creative endeavours, with easter eggs to Lynda Barry comics showing where her tastes lay. This part comes back towards the end where her treatment as a Geek Girl can be readily applied to so many female fans today.
Sisters tells a complete story and also has all sorts of plots and subplots beautifully dangling. Things we want to, have to, know.
Can’t wait for the third journey and see even more of how Raina became Raina.
…is currently reading my pile of Mad Magazines from 2014!