“Everyone has ghosts. I think we all need to learn that there’s no shame in letting them out.”
Following the events of the bestselling graphic novel, Sheets, Delicates brings Brenna Thummler’s beloved characters, artwork, and charm back to life.
Marjorie Glatt’s life hasn’t been the same ever since she discovered a group of ghosts hiding in her family’s laundromat. Wendell, who died young and now must wander Earth as a ghost with nothing more than a sheet for a body, soon became one of Marjorie’s only friends. But when Marjorie finally gets accepted by the popular kids at school, she begins to worry that if anyone learns about her secret ghost friends, she’ll be labeled as a freak who sees dead people. With Marjorie’s insistence on keeping Wendell’s ghost identity a secret from her new friends, Wendell begins to feel even more invisible than he already is.
Eliza Duncan feels invisible too. She’s an avid photographer, and her zealous interest in finding and photographing ghosts gets her labeled as “different” by all the other kids in school. Constantly feeling on the outside, Eliza begins to feel like a ghost herself. Marjorie must soon come to terms with the price she pays to be accepted by the popular kids. Is it worth losing her friend, Wendell? Is she partially to blame for the bullying Eliza endures?
Delicates tells a powerful story about what it means to fit in, and those left on the outside. It shows what it’s like to feel invisible, and the importance of feeling seen. Above all, it is a story of asking for help when all seems dark, and bringing help and light to those who need it most.
I’m a big fan of Sheets so I was so excited to finally read the sequel. Big thanks to NetGalley and Oni Press for the opportunity to read an advanced reader copy. Delicates has the same gorgeous art that I have come to expect from Brenna Thummler. I am in love with her color palettes and composition. She has a unique way of using pastels to create vintage and cozy vibes and her attention to detail is seen from the smallest of panels to the gorgeous page spreads.
The paneling helps the reader to be more immersed in each setting. Different color palettes are used for different spaces and time, making transitions feel seamless from one place to another, and from past to present and vice versa.
It had a bit of a slow start so at first I was honestly worried I wouldn’t end up liking it, but ultimately I not only liked it but loved it so much I was moved into tears. I enjoyed meeting new characters and getting to know the old ones better. Though technically a sequel, Delicates is pretty stand-alone so don’t worry about starting with this one. I would still recommend reading Sheets just to know the origin of the friendship between a human and a ghost. It’s a lovely story and lots of fun, too.
What strikes me the most coming from reading Sheets is seeing the character development of Marjorie in full. Marjorie used to be the “outsider”. She had difficulty fitting in and making friends. In this sequel we see a continuation of her “happy ending” from the first book. She is now a part of the cool kids, she goes on dates, she is seen. But the question is, is she truly happy, and is this what she really wants? We eventually realize that the happy ending is still out of reach– her family is still a mess even after the revival and success of their laundry business, her love life is more confusing than ever, and her new set of friends are turning out to be more bullies than buddies.
A significant part of the novel is about bullying. It effectively shows how teens can be so cruel, but at the same it reminds us how sensitive a person is at that stage, and how a lot of a teen’s actions and decisions can also be just reactions to their current environment. I love how the author gave more nuance to each character. She did not just give us two-dimensional bullies to hate, but real people that we may dislike but never to be misunderstood. The novel also encourages readers to look within themselves, to ask whether our mindless actions or inaction are actually contributing to someone else being victimized. If we choose to ignore the abuser, we are part of the abuse.
“Humans are delicate, too. The teensiest mistake can ruin them, even if you do everything else right.
Just because mistakes seem small and insignificant, doesn’t mean they are.”
Delicates is about a lot of things about humanity and its fragility: on dealing with the grief of loss and how to move on, commentaries about racism, prejudice, being true to yourself and finding your real tribe. Such an ambitious combination of serious topics, and Brenna Thummler’s approach is so beautifully effortless and with sublime sensitivity. I was pleasantly surprised by the theme of humans being fragile. After reading a lot of stories recently about bravery and about being unique and strong, this graphic novel has grounded me, reminding me of man’s flaws and vulnerabilities, not only within adolescence but all throughout our fleeting mortal lifetimes.
I loved this book because… I am comforted. I am inspired. I feel unapologetic to be human and weak. I am encouraged to reach out when I need someone to tell me everything will be okay, and I am empowered to lend my strength to anyone who needs it. I was not only told a cliché, but I was shown through the experience of this graphic novel this very simple truth: every life is fragile and precious in its own right.
“Some people should save lives. Others need their lives saved.”
I highly recommend this graphic novel for anyone who loves a good coming of age story, and also for anyone who needs inspiration and a reminder that every life matters. Every day that we get to feel heat or cold, see nature or the city, eat delicious food or enjoy a refreshing drink — every little thing is a cause for celebration. Because every little thing is a definition of life as only we could live it.
About the Author
Brenna Thummler grew up in northwestern Pennsylvania, where she developed a great love for nature trails, peanut butter, and, above all, drawing. A graduate of Ringling College of Art and Design, she was named the Society of Illustrators Zankel Scholar during her junior year. Since graduation, she has done editorial and advertising work for such clients as the New York Times, the Washington Post, Razorfish, and Empathic Films LLC. While Anne of Green Gables is her first published graphic novel, her first original graphic novel is Sheets. In those rare moments she’s not creating art, you might find her dancing, making music, baking cheesecakes, or spending time with kindred spirits.
Visit her website here.
Delicates (Sheets #2) by Brenna Thummler
Paperback, 320 pages
Expected publication: March 23rd 2021 by Oni Press
ISBN1620107880 (ISBN13: 9781620107881)
Genre: Children’s Fiction | Graphic Novels | Young Adult | Middle Grade | Fantasy | Paranormal | Mental Health