Pasadena, by Sherri Smith, was a tough read for me. Though it has received many positive reviews from both professional journals and everyday readers, I just could not get into this book. Pasadena is a story about a girl who is found dead in a pool with her stomach full of pills. Everyone in town thinks it was either an accident or suicide, even the cops, but Jude, her best friend, is convinced it was a murder. Jude starts talking to everyone and anyone Maggie knew, and as it turns out, Maggie was a keeper of secrets. She was a beautiful girl with the world at her fingertips, and even with so many people surrounding her, no one ever took the time to get to know her. No one ever asked about her secrets. Though the noir style of this novel is something I typically enjoy, and a dramatic gal like Maggie is always a plus, I couldn’t get behind the snarky attitude of Jude. I wanted to understand her, to feel what she was feeling, but I just couldn’t let go of her bad attitude. Though we are given a reason for her awful behavior near the end of the novel, it wasn’t addressed nearly well enough. Though, I did enjoy the smoky California atmosphere, it wasn’t enough to make this book the winner for me.
Ghosts, the graphic novel by Raina Telgemeier, on the other hand, has a character with just enough attitude to make me love her. Catrina and her family have moved to Northern California in hopes that the climate will help her little sister, Maya’s, cystic fibrosis. Once moved to this new place, Catrina faces some growing pains. For one, there is Carlos, their new neighbor, who is trying to convince them that ghosts are real, and that they could dip their toes into the spiritual world if they’d like to. Though Carlos grows on Maya, and slowly, so does her new town. This story has so many layers to it. Maya is trying to cope with the fact that her little sister is sick, Catrina is trying to live her best life, and all the while they are beginning to understand their ancestry. The bond between sisters in this graphic novel is real, and is what made this book the winner for me. I expected an oh-so-Raina Telgemeier essence here, and I got that, but I also got so much more: family bonds, life and death, culture, a diverse cast, and a heart-warming story.