Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2022) Featured Review of Cheer Up!: Love and Pompoms by Crystal Frasier and Val Wise

Cheer Up! Cover Art

Cheer Up!: Love and Pompoms by Crystal Frasier and Val Wise
Oni Press
Publication Date: August 10, 2021
ISBN: 9781620109557

When brilliant but antisocial lesbian Annie joins the cheerleading team to round out her college applications, she rekindles her friendship with BeBe, the newly elected captain of the squad. While Annie’s outspokenness often alienates others, BeBe, a transgender girl, struggles to please everyone, especially her teammates and her parents. As BeBe learns to advocate for herself in the face of microaggressions, Annie discovers that opening herself up to others might not be so bad after all.

This is a sweet and thoughtful story that follows the budding romance between Annie and BeBe, while offering a realistic portrayal of BeBe’s experiences as a transitioning teen. The cast of cheerleaders is diverse in many ways, including gender identity, sexual orientation, race, and body type. Together they create a found family unit, and throughout the novel, BeBe must help her families understand what she needs and how to be supportive as she explores her identity. The story is fast-paced, with a great deal of character growth happening in a short period of time. The bright artwork, as well as Annie and BeBe’s romantic blushes, help to keep the overall tone positive. 

Hand this to teens who enjoy stories about LGBTQIA-identifying teens navigating their place in the world, such as Boys Run the Riot, vol. 1 by Keito Gaku or the Heartstopper series by Alice Oseman. Readers eager for more queer cheerleading romance might enjoy Kelly Quindlen’s prose novel She Drives Me Crazy and ZR Ellor’s novel May the Best Man Win

—Kathleen J. Barker

Other Nominated Titles

  • I Think Our Son Is Gay, v.1 by Okura (May 11, 2021)
  • The Sprite and the Gardener by Rii Abrego and Joe Whitt (May 11, 2021)
  • Heartstopper, v.3 by Alice Oseman (May 4, 2021)

The Selected Lists teams read throughout the year in search of the best titles published in their respective categories. Once a book is suggested (either internally or through the title suggestion form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination. 

Each week, the teams will feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation will be listed as well. At year’s end, the team will use that list of nominated titles to select a final list and Top Ten. The previous years’ lists are also made available on The Hub.

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Great Graphic Novels for Teens

Great Graphic Novels for Teens Blogging Team @ YALSA's The Hub.