Cheer Up: Love and Pompoms

Oni. Aug. 2021. 128p. pap. $14.99. ISBN 9781620109557.
Gr 9 Up–Cheerleading meets girl-girl romance in this sporty rom-com. Annie is “the best student this school has ever seen,” but her guidance counselor worries that her lack of extracurriculars will hurt her college chances. Her mom, a tattooed former cheerleader, suggests that Annie join the cheerleading team. The squad doesn’t want her at first—antisocial Annie’s reputation precedes her—but head cheerleader Bebe, Annie’s former friend, changes their minds. Bebe, who struggles balancing grades, popularity, and being the first trans girl at their high school, finds Annie a welcome change to her routine. As the girls rekindle their friendship, they also start to feel something more. But will Bebe’s overprotective parents, who worry about their daughter getting hurt, be OK with it? “Wholesome princess” Bebe and devil-may-care Annie form a classic romantic pairing. Frasier’s dialogue and Wise’s full-color art create some dynamic scenes, and the quiet, wordless sequences that show the two gradually falling for each other take the story into swoon-worthy territory. As several well-intentioned characters learn to stop treating Bebe like a mascot, the story also demonstrates good allyship amid microaggressions. Annie is white, Bebe is tan-skinned, and the ensemble cast is diverse in skin tone.
VERDICT In the vein of Ngozi Ukazu’s Check, Please! or C.S. Pacat and Johanna the Mad’s Fence, this peppy yet angsty graphic novel irresistibly reclaims sports for queer and trans audiences. Recommended for all teen collections.

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