sheets and grins

Marjorie doesn’t have an easy life. While she’s only thirteen, she’s the one trying to hold her family together. After the death of her mother, her father has shut down from grief and is barely able to keep the family’s laundromat running. Isolated and bullied at school, Marjorie uses the laundromat to try to keep her mother’s legacy alive (and try to keep the family afloat), and she works hard there despite rude customers and the possibility that they could lose the building—the laundromat downstairs and their apartment upstairs. Afraid of eviction, worried for her father, and struggling against everyone she encounters, Marjorie has never felt so friendless.

Wendell is a ghost with his own struggles. He feels isolated too, and his doesn’t understand his new life as a ghost. But one night he finds the laundromat with all its fresh, clean sheets, laundered perfectly for a customer, and he can’t help but go a little wild. When Marjorie finds the mess the next morning, she is beside herself. She can’t begin to understand what happened. But a few days later, she meets Wendell, and he figures out a way to help make it up to her, beginning a friendship that they both sorely need.

Sheets is a middle-school graphic novel with gorgeous artistry and a depth of feeling that is genuinely heart-wrenching. Although it ends on a high note, the journey to get there is dark and difficult, and I struggled to keep my own emotions in check while reading the story. Written and drawn by Brenna Thummler, who illustrated Mariah Marsden’s adaptation of Anne of Green Gables, has made her debut story a true powerhouse. Read this with tissues nearby, but I strongly recommend that you read it and remember how very hard it can be to be thirteen.

Galleys for Sheets were provided by Lion Forge through Diamond Book Distributors, via NetGalley, with many thanks.