Callie loves theater. And while she would totally try out for her middle school’s production of Moon Over Mississippi, she can’t really sing. Instead she’s the set designer for the drama department stage crew, and this year she’s determined to create a set worthy of Broadway on a middle-school budget. But how can she, when she doesn’t know much about carpentry, ticket sales are down, and the crew members are having trouble working together? Not to mention the onstage AND offstage drama that occurs once the actors are chosen. And when two cute brothers enter the picture, things get even crazier!
Description taken from Goodreads.
A few days ago, I realized that I had never done a review for Raina Telgemeier’s DRAMA. Here’s the thing: there are two issues with DRAMA. But before I get to those, I have to say that I actually did love DRAMA and the two issues I need to talk about I actually didn’t have as much of a problem with.
DRAMA tells the story of not Raina’s experiences in particular, but a fictional character known as Callie. I loved the way that Callie was led through all different kinds of new experiences; she met new people, found new joys and passions, made new friends and ultimately came to love the theater and drama she is a part of even more.
I really enjoyed how Callie explored her passion and how Telgemeier showed me just how much drama meant to Callie. There’s themes of dedication, struggle, branching out and doing something you love–all of which were great to see. Of course, I also enjoyed the way that the characters, relationships, writing and drawing of it all was portrayed. I really liked the story all in all, and even though I wasn’t happy with a few things, I enjoyed it.
Then there’s the issues. For one thing, DRAMA talks about homosexuality. For another thing, drama and theater isn’t something that will reach out to many young people. It won’t be something that they can relate to.
First of all–homosexuality. It’s not necessarily a problem that DRAMA talks about the topic, it certainly is a hot-button issue, but the timing and the way that the topic is introduced and executed was what I was a little edgy about. In YA and middle-grade fiction, adults very seldom times have big roles. They do have roles, just not huge ones. In DRAMA, adults have all but no presence or influence in this story. This is not always a bad thing, but in DRAMA I think that it is, because there is no mention that adults should talk to their children about it, which leads me to my next topic in this issue.
DRAMA only looks at one side of homosexuality and has a very clear opinion on it. Let’s talk about age while we’re here, and ask the question is this book, targeted at elementary and middle school readers, written for kids that are 7, 8, 9 10? If this is the very first place that a reader that age runs into this issue, shouldn’t the book convey both sides of the argument against/for homosexuality?
These are all things that a librarian, teacher, adult or just parent should think about when handing this book to their kids. SMILE and SISTERS isn’t at all about this topic, but DRAMA is.
Then there’s drama, the topic of it all. I was involved with theatre many times growing up, and I may be again in the future sometime–but drama is by no means a passion of mine. I was still able to relate and find humor and heartwarming moments in Callie’s drama struggles. I truly believe that any student who has a passion for sports, theater, writing, art, or really anything, will be able to relate to this story.
Many students, however, are not familiar with theater in their schools and may not be able to relate to this book. This isn’t nearly as controversial an issue as the one before it, but I thought it was still something worth taking into account.
In my opinion, this book would probably be best for 6th-8th graders. If a parent is unsure about this book for their kids, no matter what age, I think that they should definitely get either SISTERS or SMILE instead. Both books are fantastic, and there is no arguing that Telgemeier is an amazing artist and writer. All in all–for me–3 stars.
pg count for the paperback: 223