Monday, November 17, 2014

Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol

Publisher: First Second
Release Date: June 7th, 2011
Source: Public library (ilu, public library!)

Synopsis: Anya could really use a friend. But her new BFF isn't kidding about the "Forever" part. Of all the things Anya expected to find at the bottom of an old well, a new friend was not one of them. Especially not a new friend who's been dead for a century.

Falling down a well is bad enough, but Anya's normal life might actually be worse. She's embarrassed by her family, self-conscious about her body, and she's pretty much given up on fitting in at school. A new friend—even a ghost—is just what she needs.

Or so she thinks. Spooky, sardonic, and secretly sincere, Anya's Ghost is a wonderfully entertaining debut from author/artist Vera Brosgol.

Review: I admit I'm in a weird reading mood right now where I pick books up and despite liking them, I don't feel compelled to finish them immediately. So I turn to graphic novels because they're easier to get through and because pictures :D 

So after hearing about this book for so long, I decided it was time to pick it up. So glad I did because I ended up really enjoying it. Anya is a very relatable character for any middle or high school student--she tries to fit in by acting a certain way, she hides her insecurities by being sarcastic, she has a crush on the hottest, popular guy in school and she smokes because it makes her seem cool. I swear, seeing her interactions and how she went about her daily life reminded me so much of former students that I alternated between shaking my head and smiling. 

I also felt that there was a bit of an ESL feel to Anya's Ghost because Anya comes from a Russian family that immigrated to the U.S. (similar to the author/artist of the story). Anya mentions more than once that she had a rough beginning in the states by not knowing the language or how to dress like the other kids but she learned over time how to fit in. It's that curious battle that we all had more or less while in high school--how do I fit in and not seem like a weirdo?  

Then there's the other issues that pop up during your teenage years: worrying about your physical appearance, comparing yourself to others, and in Anya's case trying to seem more American. One small moment that got to me was when she wanted no part of her mother's Russian meal and to appease her mother, she pretended to take it to school only to throw it out. That part killed me because food is linked to your culture and omg girl you do not throw out good food!!!! 

ANYWAY. Then comes the interesting twist in Anya's life. Emily, the ghost that she meets when she falls down a well. Emily was undeniably a much more intriguing character due to her backstory and I won't spoil it for you but I was actually surprised by the turns this story took. In the end, Emily served as the foil to Anya's character and Anya learns many things about her perception about others, herself and how she is in charge of her own life.

Final Verdict: I really liked Anya's Ghost. I felt like there were some details in the story that could have been dealt better and I do wish that the story itself extended a little more (that ending came too soon!) but Anya, Emily and the rest of the characters won me over. Also, Vera Brosgol's drawing style is simple and clean. Anya's Ghost is definitely worth your while! I even think that Anya's Ghost should be a title found in any teacher's classroom library. :D

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