The Year of the Beasts by Cecil Castellucci
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
With alternating chapters of prose and comics, Cecil Castellucci has woven a gripping tale of sisters, young love, a summer of changes and jealousy that will rip two sisters apart. Tessa and her younger sister Lulu have always hung around together and been very close. But this summer, Tessa is old enough to go to the carnival alone and not be embarrassed about what her parents look like, say and do. But Tessa will not be allowed to just hang out with her best friend, Celina. If Tessa wants to go to the carnival with her best friend, Celina---younger sister Lulu must come too. Tessa has had a crush on Charlie forever and this will be the night that they hold hands or kiss--Tessa can feel it. When she gets separated from Charlie in line, it is Lulu who goes into the sideshow with Charlie and emerges holding hands. This is the beginning of Lulu's first relationship and Tessa's mounting jealousy toward her sister. But Castellucci doesn't just paint these sisters black and white----there is irrational feelings and moods---Tessa loves her sister, and wants the best for her---just not with Charlie. When strange boy Jasper seems to keep popping up, Tessa begins a secret relationship with Jasper (made easier by the fact that he lives next door to Celina---where the sisters spend so much time)and as the summer rolls on---Tessa really cares for Jasper but still is angry with her sister because not only did she steal her secret crush; Lulu has gotten taller and needs more clothes and shoes. Her mother keeps buying Lulu new things but not Tessa. I really liked the allusion to Medusa, who turns anyone who looks at her to stone. You can see the inner turmoil of Tessa through Medusa's hair of snakes. Tessa hates herself for feeling this way; but she just can't help it. What will happen to the sisters, Charlie and the secret boy, Jasper? You must read this, I was totally unprepared for the climax---even though there were hints, signs, etc. As always, I love Cecil's books, now I love Nate Powell's graphic illustrations, I was left with such a tragic feeling...
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