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!
I appreciate the double meaning of the title in reference to theater drama and social drama. Because there is certainly tons of well, drama. From friendship troubles, to boy problems, to the play itself, Callie’s life is quite hectic.
I enjoyed the behind-the-scenes look at how a school play is produced and the step away from the cliche of having the main character be the star. The stage crew plays a role of equal importance of that of the actors; without the stage crew there would be no play. Callie loves the theater, but accepts that she can’t sing and is more than happy to be in charge of sets. Because, ultimately, that’s what this book is about – feeling comfortable in your own body and acknowledging your own strengths and weaknesses.
One of the brothers is gay, and while he’s not completely open with it, he’s comfortable with who he is. I think the novel dealt with these topics extremely well especially for a middle grade level novel. It’s just as important for kids to read about gender and identity than it is for teens. The other brother is shy and slowly learns to gain more confidence in himself and his theatrical abilities. Drama is about the power of friendship and that dedication to friends and work (mostly) pays off.
The way the novel is set up includes a touch of meta-fiction. Callie’s story is a play, beginning with the curtain lifting on the overture and the chapters are acts. As Shakespeare says “all the world’s a stage” and at times everyone’s lives are crazy enough to be a play. Or perhaps all the world is a stage…
As with Telgemeier’s other two comics (Smile and Sisters) I really like her artwork, simple yet powerful dialogue and most importantly her storytelling. I will with out a doubt be looking out for her next work.