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Comic Book / Guts (Raina Telgemeier)

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Pretty crappy idea for a story, huh?

Guts is a 2019 autobiographical graphic novel written by Raina Telgemeier. It is a Prequel to both Smile and Sistersnote  and follows a 9-10 year old Raina. One night, Raina wakes up with a stomach ache. While she thinks it's a bug at first, she slowly discovers she has anxiety, especially about germs and food. This is exacerbated by her friends treating life as a giant gross out session.

In terms of premise, Guts is much closer to Smile than Sisters, Drama, or Ghosts, as it covers more than a full school year and deals more with Raina's bodiliy insecurities than relationships with specific family members or teenage romance.

Guts provides examples of:

  • An Aesop: To paraphrase Raina's teacher, everyone has their own struggles and battles. And we can start to help one another by being nice, even to some of our enemies.
  • Autobiography: The third in Raina's Smile series, about a long-lasting stomach flu and how it contributed to her anxieties.
  • Does Not Like Spam: Amara doesn't like cheese on her pizza.
  • Innocently Insensitive: When Jane tells Raina she's moving away, Raina tries to look on the bright side that she gets a fresh start and a (hopefully) roomy home. But Jane doesn't want a fresh start: she just wants to stay with her friends.
  • Lighter and Softer: Despite the theme of anxiety weighing in on the story, Guts is more light-hearted than either Smile or Sisters thanks to its younger cast, greater abundance of humor, lack of adolescent angst and unambiguously happy ending.
  • No Periods, Period: Averted to an extent; Raina's friend, Dina, reveals she got hers during the "Skeletons in the Closet" game that she got her period starting in March, but they don't go into the nitty-gritty of it.
    Raina: Is that really a deep and dark secret?
    Nicole: The way everyone acts about it? Yeah.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Towards the end, Raina finds that she and Michelle have much in common. She also finds out that she's not even the only person known to her group of friends who goes to therapy (Dina's older sister, Jane's parents, and Nicole herself all go).
  • Phobia: Raina develops a fear of vomiting or getting sick.
  • Stress Vomit: As it turns out, Raina's digestive troubles are partly caused by stress. Upon discovering this, Raina and her mom laugh at how ironic it is that the root of her problems was under their nose the whole time.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Raina's therapist implies that Michelle may have befriended Jane because she's going through a reflective stage in life.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: If Guts is any indication, Nicole used to be considerably nicer to Raina in Elementary School, as opposed to Smile.
  • Vengeance Feels Empty: When Raina learns Michelle's surgery has left her unable to return to school the remaining year, her thoughts celebrate! ...but her emotions feel like "rain cloud","frowny face", "thumbs down"
  • What the Hell, Hero?: The teacher gives Raina a subdued one when the latter calls Michelle's family waldorf salad recipe "gross".
  • What You Are in the Dark: Despite Raina's thoughts wanting to celebrate that Michelle won't be returning to school, she "pops" that thought bubble. And her emotions feel good. She goes the extra mile when she suggests to the teacher they make a big "Get Well" poster for Michelle.
  • You Are Not Alone: When Raina confesses at a sleepover that she's seeing a therapist, the others treat it as no big deal. Dina even points out her own sister is seeing one.

Alternative Title(s): Guts