Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Anya's Ghost Mini-Review
by Vera Brosgol
Published: Square Fish First Second
Genre: graphic novel
Source: personal copy
From the back cover "What if your BFF is a ghost?
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 dead one—is just what she needs. But Anya's new BFF isn't kidding about the "forever" part...."
Anya is a Russian immigrant who came to America as a small child (for some weird reason some reviewers keep talking about her being a first or second generation America - but unless there was a different version of this story, Anya says quite clearly on page 198 "Oh. I never went to school in Russia. We moved just before I was supposed to start"). This adds an extra layer to teenage years already fraught with body image issues, attempts to fit in and crushes. So, when she falls down a well and meets a ghost, she is understandably freaked out and standoffish at first. But as her new companion starts to prove helpful, a friendship develops.
I really like this story - it flowed well, the art is appealing, and the feel was very reminiscent of high school. It also managed to creep me out. I liked how the character of Elizabeth was not simply turned into a mean girl. For a text sparse graphic novel, there is surprising depth to it. It will be a little while before either of my children will be old enough to understand the story, so I will have to wait to see what they think of it.