When your friends are your whole world, what happens when you lose one of them and everything seems to be slowly falling apart? Dear Rosie, with words and art by Meghan Boehman and Rachael Briner, is a gentle graphic novel for middle grade readers about grief, friendship, and change.
Millie is about to start eighth grade at Tuscarora Middle School with her three best friends, Florence, Claire, and Gabby. It’s a difficult beginning, as the girls lost their fifth friend Rosie in a car accident the summer before. A new school year is a new start and the girls try to make the best of it, kicking it off with cupcakes in Rosie’s memory. After school, Millie helps her parents out at their laundromat. One day, a woman in a red coat leaves behind a mysterious journal and despite her best efforts to return it, Millie decides to peek inside.
The journal is full of sketches of buildings around their town but one thing really catches her eye—she finds the symbol Rosie always drew on its pages! Millie wants to use the sketchbook to explore and possibly find one final connection with her deceased friend, but getting everyone together to do so isn’t that easy. As the four friends deal with navigating their final year of middle school, they realize sometimes friendship can start to look different than it might have looked before.
Dear Rosie is a delicate look at one year in the lives of four young girls who’ve undergone a huge tragedy in their life. There are new things happening all around them, but the bond of friendship is the main focus of the novel. Rosie’s memory bonds them together and even when things don’t look ideal, they make it through and support one another. Boehman and Briner deal with heavy topics, such as moving, running away, and depression, with such grace and tenderness without ever speaking down to the graphic novel’s intended middle grade audience.
Young readers will find themselves drawn to the warm cottagecore style of the art of Dear Rosie. The book has warm fall coloring except in instances of memories of Rosie. In those panels, the coloring is muted and slightly colder, sending us back into the past when she was still alive. The graphic novel takes place in a world with all humanistic animals, enhancing its cozy feel. There’s additional information about these artistic choices in the book’s back matter for readers looking to learn even more about those. Boehman and Briner really bring the book’s very specific world to life.
Readers who appreciate graphic novels that deal with tough topics, like Stargazing or Sunny Side Up, will enjoy Dear Rosie. It’s also recommended for mystery lovers. This book has the possibility to prompt discussions and bring up heavy feelings as it deals with multiple major life changes, so be aware of any applicable warnings for some readers.
By Meghan Boehman & Rachael Briner
Publisher Age Rating: 8-12
NFNT Age Recommendation: Middle Grade (7-11), Tween (10-13)