The story of Sweeties #2: Summer/Coco, written by Veronique Grisseaux, follows a blended family of five girls as they navigate family and social issues with a dash of romance. In the first volume, a chocolatier named Paddy falls in love with Charlotte, a mother of four girls. They later get engaged and move in together. Paddy’s daughter, Cherry moves in as well. Charlotte’s daughters have a hard time accepting Paddy and Cherry into the family. In volume 2, the story shifts to Charlotte’s daughter, Summer. Summer is preparing for an audition to a prestigious ballet school. Summer blames herself for her parents not being together. This fuels her drive to get into ballet school even if her health is at stake.
Summer’s friends and family notice the change in her behavior and her physical appearance. She hardly eats and practices ballet hours on end. This begins to affect her relationship with her boyfriend, Aaron. Aaron feels that she focuses too much time and attention on dancing instead of on him. The friction between them leads to their break up and causes Charlotte to further retreat into anorexia. After the story’s conclusion, resources are listed with organizations that can offer help for those suffering from anorexia. There is also a note from a doctor providing more details about the condition.
Part two focuses on the youngest sister, Coco. She enjoys wearing a panda beanie and has a love of animals. She takes up horse riding lessons and tries to ride Caramel. Caramel throws her off, but Coco is determined to try again. When she returns to the stables, she discovers Caramel has been sold. Coco is devastated and is determined to make sure Caramel ended up in a good home. She is joined on her quest by a classmate, Stevie. They don’t get along at first, but are united in their quest to save Caramel.
The Sweeties comics are based on The Chocolate Box Girl novels by Cathy Cassidy. The color on the pages and cover look like a bag of skittles exploded onto the page. Charlotte and her daughters are all blonde and blue-eyed. Cherry, the new addition to the family is brunette with two buns on the side of her head. The swath of colors helped keep things looking bright even though serious topics filled the pages. I found the eyebrows and curvature of the mouths to convey a lot of emotion and expression.
Sweeties #2: Summer/Coco is a good read for teens who like social issues with their graphic novels. Family issues like being part of a blended family will resonate with those going through similar struggles. These graphic novels are good for libraries looking to build their collections with more realistic stories. While aimed at teens, Sweeties is also suitable for the tween set. Volume 2 has scenes of teens drinking and smoking. There is a scene where one sister is encouraging another to take a drink.
Sweeties #2: Summer/Coco
By Veronique Grisseaux
Art by Claudia and Marco Forcelloni
Publisher Age Rating: T