Page 45 Review by Stephen
Everything about this book begged me to hate it.
I've read neither SMILE nor SISTERS so had no preconceptions, but I'm allergic to the melodramatic strain of cartooning wherein every character in every panel gesticulates wildly with their mouths wide open as if they are shouting even when they have nothing whatsoever to say.
I also harbour an extreme aversion to this sort of "Gosh!" and "Wow!" over-zealous glee which makes me shudder as much as the threat of a group hug. And then there's that other 'Glee' factor for this is indeed focussed on the build-up to a theatrical performance during which you just know that people will "discover themselves".
Ugh! It's all so wholesome that I soon felt the need to cull kittens.
Except. The twins won me over. Let's back up, shall we?
Callie has a crush on Greg and stuck-up, self-centred Bonnie has finally ditched him, hurrah! Shy Callie then makes the move she's been dying to make for ages but, umm, Greg just doesn't see her that way and it all grows a bit awkward. Thankfully there's the distraction of 'Moon Over Mississippi', this year's Spring musical production, and Callie just loves the theatre. She has no aspirations as an actor, mind, but she loves set designs and has loads of ambition.
And that's when the twins appear - Justin and Jesse - as Callie's pinning the auditions notice to the board in the corridor. Equally 'theatrical' (read: camp as tits), it's Justin who's most outgoing and stage-struck and (of course) gay of the two, while Jesse is perfectly happy to sit back, admire and support his brother. Callie may have a crush on him. Jesse may have a crush on Callie.
Anyway, the pages that got me hooked against all odds (because musicals too make me vomit) involve Callie, Justin and Jesse buzzed up after a trip to an independent book store, Jesse and Callie stepping in and out of a giant book on set design. Jesse suggests Justin sing Callie the part he's gunning for in 'Moon Over Mississippi' which is the romantic lead. Obediently Justin hops over to the car park palm tree and begins to act his socks off and sing his heart out. Then comes the pregnant pause in which the lady-love-interest is supposed to respond. Jesse smiles shyly at Callie, blushing, before clip-clopping over to his brother, staring into his eyes adoringly:
"I'd no plans for a man from a northerly land, till I first saw your face. But I knew, yes I knew, though my daddy hated you, we'd meet again... in a special place."
"That's the part where they kiss," says Justin with a big, broad grin, Jesse smiling ever-bashfully.
"Obviously!!!" shouts Callie, traumatised.
Infer what you will. Structurally it's all rather clever with that moment reprised to perfection and, no, this is emphatically not about Callie getting a boyf. Being single is a perfectly viable option, you know.