Friday, July 01, 2011

Anya's Ghost

Vera Brosgol

This latest offering from First Second Books features a teenage protagonist struggling to fit in at a private school.  Having moved from Russia, she's done her best to drop her accent and adopt the clothing and mannerisms of her peers, but her family and the other nerdy Russian boy at her school make it difficult to sweep her heritage under the rug completely.  And she's lonely, as she has very few friends.  That changes, however, when she tumbles into a well, where she discovers a skeleton, and the ghost of the girl who belongs to it.  Although freaked out at first, Anya quickly makes friends with the ghost, and finds that having a ghost as a best friend has advantages.  Her new friend also helps her open her eyes to those around her as, it seems, the people in her life aren't always exactly what they seem, a point that hits home with how she's been faking her way through life herself.  Anya's Ghost is a fun read along the lines of fantasy books like Courtney Crumrin and Ghostopolis, with a feisty protagonist, and plenty going on beneath the surface that readers pick up on through the actions of the characters.  The art is nice and cartoony, fitting for a story about a ghost BFF, and the creator finds a nice balance between serious and funny.  Brosgol, a Russian immigrant herself, brings a lot to the table when it comes to identity and heritage, perhaps using her own life to illustrate the embarrassment of Anya of her own heritage, and trying to fit in, becoming a different person, and watching those around her put on their own fronts.  Ultimately, Anya learns her lesson a little too neatly, but for an all-ages title, I think that that's appropriate.  Anya's Ghost has a few surprises up its sleeve, and is more clever than you'd imagine at first glance.  A well-paced, fun read.

No comments: