Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Graphic Novel Review: Operatic by Kyo Maclear

Title: Operatic
Author: Kyo Maclear
Illustrator: Byron Eggenschwiler
Publisher: Groundwood Books
Pages: Hardcover; 160
Recommended Age Group: Upper MG/YA
Release Date: April 2, 2019
Source: NetGalley / Publisher

It’s almost the end of middle school, and Charlie has to find her perfect song for a music class assignment. The class learns about a different style of music each day, from hip-hop to metal to disco, but it’s hard for Charlie to concentrate when she can’t stop noticing her classmate Emile, or wondering about Luka, who hasn’t been to school in weeks. On top of everything, she has been talked into participating in an end-of-year performance with her best friends.

Then, the class learns about opera, and Charlie discovers the music of Maria Callas. The more she learns about Maria’s life, the more Charlie admires her passion for singing and her ability to express herself fully through her music. Can Charlie follow the example of the ultimate diva, Maria Callas, when it comes to her own life?

This evocatively illustrated graphic novel brilliantly captures the high drama of middle school by focusing on the desire of its finely drawn characters to sing and be heard.

I really enjoyed reading Operatic. Not only is this graphic novel filled with stunning illustrations, it's also a story with a ton of heart. If you've ever felt inspired by music at all, even a little bit, this story will resonate with you. All of the other messages that were wrapped up in this story were simply icing on an already beautifully created cake.

I thought that this graphic novel perfectly captured the tumultuous feelings that come along with transitioning from middle school to high school. Poor Charlie isn't sure where she fits into the world and so, when her teacher tells them to find their own perfect song, she's equally confused about what would really describe her. Watching her mull over her choices, and ultimately find someone who inspired her, made my heart happy. It's hard not to feel emotional while reading this, partially because of the content and partially because the illustrations just have so much movement and atmosphere wrapped up in them.

If I had one complaint, it would be that this story does jump around a lot. There are a lot of items to fit into one girl's story, including crushes, lost friends, and feeling unsure of oneself. Still, I kind of felt like this also fit with the content. After all, a middle school brain is definitely exactly like that. Lots of emotions, lot of skipping around, essentially a torrent of new and processing information. So, I gave that a pass. As I said above, the illustrations are honestly too beautiful to ignore either way. I never felt all that lost during Charlie's story. In fact, I saw a bit of myself.

Lovely story, stellar illustrations, and an all around beautiful read.

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.


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