Cat is an average California teenager who is apprehensive over having to move upstate with her mom, dad, and younger sister, Maya, who suffers from cystic fibrosis. As Cat and Maya soon find out, their new town, Bahía de la Luna, is historically known for the thin veil that exists between the worlds of the living and the dead.
Through the course of the book, Cat and Maya, who are part Hispanic, learn a little about their maternal grandmother, who passed away before they were born. The girls' mother laments over her troubled relationship with her mother, and expresses regret over not learning about or taking pride in her mother's Mexican traditions and recipes. With the help of neighbors and new friends, the girls start to learn a little more about traditional Mexican food and celebrations. They even build a traditional ofrenda for their grandmother in their home.
Like other Hispanic communities, every year, Bahía de la Luna hosts a festival to commemorate Día de los Muertos. Unlike at other community festivals, though, the ghosts of loved ones actually DO make themselves visible and speak and sing and dance with the living like they were any other party guests. Cat attends the festival saddened that Maya is too sick to join the party, but still hoping to find and speak with her deceased grandmother.
Throughout the story, Maya struggles with the physical limitations of her cystic fibrosis, and Cat struggles with her fears of ghosts, the unknown, and losing her sister. In addition to the theme of 'resurrecting' family tradition and culture, this book has a unique, but comforting way of using the folklore of Día de los Muertos to paint a picture of what the afterlife might be like, AND to emphasize that our loved ones are still with us, even after they leave their mortal lives.
I recommend this graphic novel for Grades 3 and up.
©2017 Emily Kowalski Schroeder