Review of Guts

by Raina Telgemeier; illus. by the author; color by Braden Lamb
Intermediate    Graphix/Scholastic    215 pp.    g
9/19    978-0-545-85251-7    $24.99
Paper ed.  978-0-545-85250-0    $12.99
e-book ed.  978-0-545-85253-1    $7.99

In this graphic memoir chronicling her fourth-grade year, Telgemeier (Smile; Sisters, rev. 11/14) shares her childhood experiences with anxiety. A bout with a stomach bug ushers in emetophobia (fear of vomiting), leaving young Raina trembling and plagued by digestion issues during moments of insecurity, as when making a class presentation. As her phobia worsens, she starts missing school, limiting what she eats, and engaging in compulsive behaviors to self-soothe and manage her loss of self-control. Her parents take her to a therapist, who guides her in coping with her phobia and panic attacks. Sensitively capturing the traumas of anxiety (“Can you be sick even if you’re not sick? Can you be healthy even if you hurt?” Raina wonders), Telgemeier also addresses the insecurities of tween female friendships, the stigma of therapy, and the onset of puberty. She expertly uses scale and perspective to animate the terror of panic attacks; in one bile-colored spread, Raina falls through the very floor tiles, gasping and screaming. There’s a fair amount of bodily-function humor — the book’s last panel features a big “FARRRRRT!” — but it’s never at the expense of the book’s serious subject matter. In a closing note, Telgemeier recommends that readers experiencing anxiety talk to a trusted adult and acknowledges that her own anxiety is ongoing but manageable, “just part of who I am.”

From the September/October 2019 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Julie Danielson

Julie Danielson

Julie Danielson writes about picture books at the blog Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. She also reviews for The Horn Book, Kirkus, and BookPage and is a lecturer for the School of Information Sciences graduate program at the University of Tennessee. Her book Wild Things!: Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature, written with Betsy Bird and Peter D. Sieruta, was published in 2014.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.

Nikki Matlock

My daughter has been struggling with this and was recommended this book by a child who reached out and helped her overcome her fear of eating at school ( bc of a fear of throwing up) . It’s really a great way for others to understand what your child is going through, especially of they have never experienced a phobia. Also it helped my daughter feel seen and also laugh about it. Such an amazing find for a truly difficult and sometimes heartbreaking time for everyone involved. Thank you thank you for sharing your experience.

Posted : Nov 08, 2021 11:54



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing.