Title: Cheer Up: Love and Pompoms
Author: Crystal Fraiser
Illustrator: Val Wise
Cheer Up is a very cute graphic novel. Annie is a smart, antisocial teen who is being pressured to join the cheerleading squad to increase her chances at college scholarships. While on the team she reconnects with her former friend Bebe. Bebe is a trans girl who is struggling to please everyone and still set clear boundaries.
This was a cute story about friendship, finding yourself, first love, and learning how to stand up for yourself. I enjoyed the story a lot, especially since it was a grumpy/sunshine pairing which is one of my favorites. Annie and Bebe were very cute together. They started as friends and eventually admitted their feelings for each other. They really brought out the best in each other and helped each other overcome their fears.
The story also had a lot of other important moments, outside of the romance, like Bebe’s struggle with being out at her high school, overbearing parents, the high expectations of her parents, and her struggle with saying no. Bebe’s struggles were very relatable because a lot of people struggle with standing up for themselves, especially against family and friends.
Sadly, there were some big issues in this that were glossed over, like the cheerleading team initially using Bebe to gain attention, her super controlling parents who also say some hurtful things, and their threat of preventing her from transitioning. I was really disappointed by how her parents’ actions were never really discussed or resolved in this book.
Overall, this was a good book but it does have a few issues. I liked the art style and color pallet a lot and think it worked well with a story about cheerleading.
Trigger Warning: fatphobic and transphobic comments. Babe is harassed by a male student after she says no and touches her against her will. Bebe’s parents tell her she has to keep her grades up or she has to “go back to dressing as a boy