Author: Vera Brosgol
Publication Date: 6/7/11
Publisher: First Second
Blurb(GR): 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 atthe 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. "Anya's Ghost" is a 2011 "Kirkus" Best Teen Books of the Year title. One of "School Library Journal"'s Best Fiction Books of 2011. One of "Horn Book"'s Best Fiction Books of 2011.
It’s been a while since I’ve read a real graphic novel that’s not just text with illustrations. So it may be partly because I’ve been missing the format, but I was completely blown away by this book. It made me remember everything that’s possible in a graphic novel, but impossible when the story is confined to mere words. Beyond that, I think that it takes an incredible amount of talent to convey so efficiently and precisely the story, characters, emotions, and just everything in the space of a drawing. Vera Brosgol infuses every cell with so much meaning and emotion.
I think that I fell in love with Anya on about page two. She is a curvy, sarcastic, insecure, unmotivated, smart, snarky, dark, sweet Russian girl who wishes to be everything that she’s not. All of this comes across within the span of a few pages. There are very few words to this book, but any more would be simply unnecessary. The story is rich and detailed and complex as it is.
Anya has a hopeless crush on the school basketball captain, and an envious sort of hatred for his girlfriend, the perfect blonde Elizabeth. When she falls into a well one afternoon, she discovers that she’s not alone. The ghost of a young girl lingers there, her body left to desiccate for ninety years. Anya is scared at first, but soon she discovers just how useful a ghost can be.
There is a lovely message within these pages too. Anya feels so much like an outsider, and the bullying that she suffers as a child after immigrating to the U.S. encourages her to turn away from her identity and heritage. This is a
common feeling for young people who must start over in a new place, but it is also a feeling universally shared by teenagers. I think that a lot of young people have that insecurity, that feeling of ill-fitting discomfort, like your entire person just doesn’t quite belong anywhere. There can be a tremendous amount of pressure to change and mold and adapt yourself to assimilate. Anya rejects everything curvy and smart and Russian. But Anya finds out that not all that seems perfect actually is, and that it’s a good thing to be different.
This theme is nothing revolutionary, but the humor, the dash of the paranormal, and the fantastic artwork all contribute to the extraordinariness of this book. I highly recommend this for everyone.
Perfect Musical Pairing
Regina Spektor – Raindrops
Regina seems like an obvious choice for this book, and this song is very fragile and sweet, like I imagine Anya is on the inside. This is a song about looking for connection and hoping to meet that special person that’s still unrevealed.