Sunday, April 22, 2012

Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol

Anya's Ghost is a graphic novel for young adults written by Vera Brosgol. Brosgol, a 26 year old cartoonist started drawing young and had a renowned webcomic by age 16. She also contrib- uted to the popular movie Coraline by serving as a storyboard artist for production.

Brosgol's writing style is only outdone by her amazing drawings in this charming book. It stars a first generation Russian immigrant, Anya, who is full of opinions, wit, and lots of teenage angst. This novel mixes a touching tale of the experience of an immigrant, trying desperately to assimilate and prevent fellow schoolmates from making fun of her, with a thrilling ghost story. As most good young adult books do, it mixes in a touch of rebellion and romance.

Anya is a young adult who struggles fitting in at her school. She has a tendency to smoke and cut classes. During one of her ditch days she takes a walk in the woods, only to fall down an abandoned well and find a startling surprise: a pile of bones and a real-life ghost. The ghost latches on to her and Anya is faced with defining who she is, what she wants from life, what is most important to her, and who she should trust.

Anya's Ghost deals with some difficult issues, such as infidelity, tobacco use, underage drinking, peer pressure, self-image distortions and murder. It does have potential for classroom use, as it allows for natural discussion of these topics and sets a positive example for readers to emulate if put in similar situations. Most readers around middle school age would be able to read about these issues without being disturbed, but it should be recommended with those cautions in mind.
If you'd like to try this adorable book, and I suggest you do, the first chapter is available on the publisher's website. It is also available at many local libraries, though there is likely going to be a long wait list, as I experienced!


Nicole Dahl said...

This seems as though it would be a great book for young adults to read because of all of the issues that it touches upon, especially struggling to fit in at school as I am sure a lot of young people have experienced that. It would be great to hear from young adults reading the novel if they could relate or how they would react if put in the situations that Anya encounters. I think that the more that young adults realize they are not alone in feeling what they feel, it will have a positive impact. I think that the graphic novel is also a wonderful way to get reluctant readers reading and it seems as though the drawings in this one would really get readers to want to turn the page - the link to the first chapter is awesome!

Anonymous said...

This book is well-liked by tweens. I've read that it ends abruptly. What are your thoughts?

Tom Philion said...

nice review--I am seeing a lot of ghost and fantasy novels--maybe the Twilight influence?