Title: Cheer Up: Love and Pompoms
Author: Crystal Frasier, Val Wise (illustrator)
Genre: Young Adult, Graphic Novel, Romance, LGBTQ
Publisher: Oni Press
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Release Date: August 10, 2021
A sweet, queer teen romance perfect for fans of Fence and Check, Please!
Annie is a smart, antisocial lesbian starting her senior year of high school who’s under pressure to join the cheerleader squad to make friends and round out her college applications. Her former friend BeeBee is a people-pleaser—a trans girl who must keep her parents happy with her grades and social life to keep their support of her transition. Through the rigors of squad training and amped up social pressures (not to mention micro aggressions and other queer youth problems), the two girls rekindle a friendship they thought they’d lost and discover there may be other, sweeter feelings springing up between them.
Annie is an antisocial lesbian senior who has to join a team to look good on her college applications. She decides to try out for the cheer squad, where her former best friend, and trans girl, Bebe is the captain. Bebe has to keep her grades up and do well in activities so her parents continue to support her transition. Both Annie and Bebe have to deal with social pressures to follow the path society thinks they should be on.
I joined the cheerleading team at my school in my final year, like Annie did. This story explained the positions of the sport, so it gives a good overview of what it involves. This team appeared to be supportive of Bebe’s transition because they always put her in the spotlight. However, Bebe didn’t want to be in the spotlight, so they ended up putting a lot of pressure on her and making her stand out in ways that made her uncomfortable. Bebe had to figure out how to share her feelings so she was treated fairly on the team.
Bebe’s identity as a trans girl was an important part of the story. Some people in her life, such as her parents, thought they were protecting her by treating her differently. Her parents gave her strict rules to follow because they thought she would be targeted for being trans. There was also a boy at school who would harass her because he thought she wanted male attention. The most important thing is to treat everyone in ways that make them comfortable. If you don’t know what would make them most comfortable, like Annie wasn’t sure about how Bebe wanted to be treated, the best thing to do is to ask them.
Cheer Up is a fun queer cheerleader graphic novel!
Thank you Oni Press for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
What to read next:
She Drives Me Crazy by Kelly Quindlen
Heartstopper, Vol. 1 by Alice Oseman
Have you read Cheer Up: Love and Pompoms? What did you think of it?