Brenna Thummler’s Sequel To ‘Sheets’: ‘Delicates’ Reviewed

by Rachel Bellwoar

Overview

In Delicates, all of Marjorie’s friends are ghosts, but does that mean she should spend time with bullies because they’re alive and Wendell’s not?

Overall
7/10
7/10

Wondering if your crush likes you back. Finding yourself in a friend group you’re not sure you want to be in. Replaying certain conversations in your mind. Plenty of stories proclaim to be about eighth grade but not every story gets at the uncomfortableness like Brenna Thummler’s Delicates.

Not that eighth grade is usually made out to be a walk in the park but there’s the broad strokes version that get generalized by pop culture and then there’s the eighth grade that makes you squirm in your seat because it’s a little too accurate.

In Delicates, the sequel to Brenna Thummler’s 2018 graphic novel, Sheets, Marjorie is about to start eighth grade and has been spending less and less time with Wendell, one of the ghosts that lives in her family’s laundromat. Because Thummler has always dealt with the real implications of what it means for Wendell to be a young ghost, it’s an unusual predicament. Wendell is loyal and, by Marjorie’s own admission, Tessi and her friends aren’t great company, but they’re the ones who keep inviting her out and is it healthy for Marjorie to be putting ghosts before humans (even questionable ones)?

Like Sheets, the title, Delicates, works as a reference to laundry but when it’s actually used in the book it’s a reference to life, and how fragile it can be. Unlike Sheets (which was split between Marjorie and Wendell’s point of view), Delicates splits it’s time between Marjorie and a new character named Eliza, who’s the daughter of one of Marjorie’s teachers, Mr. Duncan. Eliza’s passion is ghost photography and since Marjorie doesn’t want people to find out about Wendell and the others, this doesn’t initially set them off on the right foot. Neither does Marjorie traveling in the same circle as Eliza’s bullies. Delicates doesn’t have a content warning or contact information at the end but Thummler does seriously address one of the characters having suicidal thoughts.

Thummler also doesn’t let parents off easy, which you don’t always see in middle grade stories. Marjorie’s father continues to struggle with his grief over the death of Marjorie’s mother and Eliza’s parents, while busy and well-meaning, don’t say the right thing all the time.

While the book makes good use of flashbacks, Thummler doesn’t always signal that they’re coming by changing the colors, so it can take a moment to realize they’re memories. Thummler also pays a lot of attention to body movements – specifically the gestures we make under tables or beneath desks that no one else is supposed to see. From choosing angles that highlight these motions to devoting whole panels to them, it’s the hand twist or foot shuffle that can be the most telling and while characters might not show their emotions on their faces, Thummler makes sure readers see the nerves underneath.

Delicates isn’t easy and if you’re not up to sadness, it might not be the right choice right now but there’s a weight to this sequel and fans of Sheets shouldn’t skip it.

Delicates is on sale now from Oni Press.

%d bloggers like this: