Raina wakes up one night with a terrible upset stomach. It soon becomes clear that Raina's tummy trouble isn't going away... and it coincides with her worries about food, school, and changing friendships. What's going on?
Reviewed by Lucy Timmons
Guts is a graphic novel, which explores the gripping effect anxiety can have on the stomach of any person but in particular a pubescent teenager. Fortunately, we are in an age where anxiety and mental health are not seen as taboo and young people are being encouraged to explore and be open about this very prevalent aspect of being human.
As a young person, I would have completely resonated with this book, and it would have made me feel better knowing I was not alone with those awful feelings in my tummy regarding friendship, home life, emotions, and aversions. This book very sensitively covers all these things but is very much located in the voice of the young protagonist. The images serve to portray the complexities of these emotions perfectly. The voice of the characters is well established. The rhythm of the text accurately aligns with the erratic nature of emotions and anxiety. Raina Telgemeier has fully grasped this and weaved the graphic novel to create this very visceral experience for the reader.
As an educationalist, Guts is a must for any KS2 classroom, if not year 2. For a child, this is a perfect opportunity to be transported, enriched and understood. Friendship, food and day to day school life issues are explored but not romanticised or resolved in a ‘happily ever after’ way. There is an acknowledgement that anxiety can be a life long challenge but that there is hope for anyone suffering in the form of friendship, family and professional help. What this offers to a school is a chance to explore this through the eyes of a child.