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48 pages 1 hour read

Raina Telgemeier

Drama: A Graphic Novel

Fiction | Graphic Novel/Book | Middle Grade | Published in 2012

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Summary and Study Guide

Overview

Drama is a Young Adult graphic novel by Raina Telgemeier published in 2012. It is Telgemeier’s third book and her first fiction graphic novel—her first two were autobiographical. Drama is critically acclaimed and spent 240 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list. This guide refers to the 2012 edition by Scholastic/Graphix.

Plot Summary

Callie Marin is a seventh-grader at Eucalyptus Middle School. She has long, purple-dyed hair and likes to wear the color green. She also loves the theater, and is on the school’s stage crew with her best friend, Liz, and her other good friend, Matt.

The narrative opens with Callie walking home from school with Matt and his older brother, Greg. Greg asks to talk with Callie alone, which angers Matt, although Matt ultimately obliges. Callie has a crush on Greg, and is happy to have some alone time with him. However, Greg only wants to talk to Callie alone because she is a girl—and he is having trouble with his girlfriend, Bonnie. After discussing Bonnie’s complaints about Greg with him, Callie also questions Bonnie’s character. She also tells him that Bonnie isn’t the only girl who likes him before planting a kiss on his lips.

Callie’s interactions with Greg prove to be a thorn in Matt’s side throughout the entire novel, and he acts icily toward Callie the next day at a meeting convened by Mr. Madera, the school’s theater director. During the meeting, every student receives their role. Callie will be in charge of props, and Liz will be in charge of costumes. Callie says that she wants to have a pyrotechnic cannon as a set piece for the play despite the budget not supporting this. She determines to make the prop as grand as possible anyway.

Callie soon becomes acquainted with Justin and Jesse Mendocino, twins in the eighth grade. Justin has a bombastic personality, loves the theater, and is planning on auditioning for the play. Jesse, in contrast, is quiet and a bit shy. Soon, Justin invites Callie on a trip to a nearby bookstore called Longacre’s Books. Callie agrees, and even makes sure that she, Jesse, and Justin take a route that goes past the baseball field so that she can make Greg jealous. When she learns they both have beautiful singing voices, she tells them that they could both be on Broadway. But Jesse remains resolute about not wanting to audition for the school play.

During a private discussion, Justin reveals to Callie that he is gay. He also has a crush on the eighth-grader Loren, who is the play’s stage manager. Callie is a bit nervous receiving this information, but ultimately responds lovingly to Justin, telling him that his secret is safe with her. Justin thanks her, and tells her that Jesse already knows.

When auditions for the play take place, a handsome eighth grader named West Redding nabs the leading role of Bailey, while Bonnie is cast as his love interest, Maybelline. Justin is crushed, as he was hoping for the lead role. He has instead been cast as the comic-relief character Colonel Scrimshaw. Callie and Jesse’s friendship grows, and she develops a crush on him. She even teaches him how to slow dance one day at the theater while they are discussing the eighth-grade formal. West and Bonnie begin dating, and Jesse becomes Bonnie’s science tutor.

Liz soon encourages Callie to ask Jesse to the formal. When Jesse invites her to a bookstore, she mistakes it for a date but then finds Justin is also participating. She holds out hope that Jesse will ask her to the formal. As the play’s opening night approaches, Callie works feverishly to finish her cannon prop. She’s figured out that she will be using confetti in it instead of real fire. When she accidentally sets it off before cue during a publicity lunchtime performance in the cafeteria, the confetti explosion boosts ticket sales substantially.

The play’s opening night is a rousing success. On the evening before the play’s closing night, Jesse, Callie, and West find themselves conversing in the theater. Jesse confesses that Bonnie has asked him to help her cheat on her next science exam, and that he has refused and resigned as her tutor as a result. He is surprised when West takes his side in the matter.

The next day, at 15 minutes before curtain, it is discovered that the water has spilled all over the stage. As Callie rushes to clean it up, she overhears Bonnie and West breaking up. Bonnie is devastated that West has chosen to do so before their final performance. Callie, in her haste and distraction, accidentally sets off the cannon stage prop. The confetti flies into the puddles of water and won’t work again. By the play’s intermission, Bonnie has locked herself in a supply closet and is refusing to finish the play. Then, Jesse, wearing Maybelline’s dress, emerges onto the stage in order to perform the part. Ultimately, he saves the show. He even shares an on-stage kiss with West. After the play, he asks Callie to attend the formal with him. She enthusiastically agrees to do so.

At the formal, however, Jesse ends up abandoning Callie in order to talk to West outside. When Callie finds him, he wordlessly confesses the truth: He has a crush on West. Callie becomes upset and decides to walk home with Greg, who has erstwhile been abandoned by Bonnie for a high-schooler. Greg and Callie end up back on the bench at the park. Greg tells Bonnie that he has been wrong to overlook her all year, asks her to be his girlfriend, and tries to kiss her. But Callie stops him and tells him that she will be only too happy to walk home alone.

Later, after final exams, Callie finds Jesse in the theater and they make their peace. Jesse affirms that Callie has been a very supportive presence in his life, and all is forgiven. He also helps Callie and Liz make up, as Liz is mad at Callie for abandoning her at the dance. Callie spontaneously arranges for the stage crew’s final meeting to take place at Justin and Jesse’s favorite bubble tea establishment. The graphic novel ends with Loren announcing that Callie has been named next year’s stage manager, and Callie rejoicing.

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