After an idyllic childhood of homeschooling with her mother and three older brothers, Maggie enrolls in public high school, where interacting with her peers is complicated by the melancholy ghost that has followed her throughout her entire life.
Maggie has been homeschooled her entire life until this year, when she starts ninth grade. To add even more changes, her mother left the family, her father has been promoted to police chief and her three older brothers suddenly don’t get along like they used to. Luckily, she falls in with Lucy and Alistair, and realizes that perhaps she can navigate high school after all, even if she can’t fix everything in her life. Hicks’ graphic novel is a realistic take on the pains (and pleasures) of adolescence, and the ghost story in the narrative accentuates, rather than diminishes, the universality of wanting to make everything better for other people, and sometimes not being able to. Refreshingly, this is a book that is first and foremost about friendship: new, old, good, and gone bad. There is no love interest, and no characters pine for one, which readers fed up with high school drama may appreciate. Not to mention, of course, Hicks' fabulous artwork, which ensures that I am forever on the lookout for her books.
At the center of this tale of new starts and lingering doubts is freshman Maggie McKay. Home-schooled, the youngest of 4 children, and the only girl, Maggie has never had a friend outside of her own family. The silent ghost that's stalked her for the past 7 years doesn't count. But the ghost haunts Maggie less than the changes that have rocked her comfortable life in the past year: her mother's abrupt departure, the dissolution of her twin brothers' once close relationship, and the beginning of her time in public high school. Hicks' masterfully creates emotional and visual depth with atmospheric, expressive black and white illustration, thoughtful use of gray toning and excellent panel design. Though the story's ending may not resolve as much as the reader expects, the open-ended conclusion perfectly reflects the over-arching theme of the work: "Friends With Boys" puts forth the idea that some ghosts, literal or otherwise, can't be laid to rest in one simple stroke, and that moving forward may be painful, but is worth it.
This is definitely a great book for comic lovers. If you enjoyed going to the Kids Read Comics event, you will surely enjoy this. Filled with jokes, terrific drawings, and a wonderful plot, Friends with Boys will keep you captivated until the very last page. I just love the believable characters and brilliant artwork.
It's Maggie's first day at Sandford High School. Until this year, she has been home schooled with her three older brothers. Now she's on her own, navigating crowded hallways and classrooms. She soon meets the mohawked-coiffed Alistair and his bubbly sister Lucy, who befriend Maggie and help her come out from under the shadow of her brothers.
Oh, did I forget to mention that Maggie has been stalked by a ghost in a graveyard for the past seven years? And that her mother recently abandoned their family for reasons unknown? As these developments are gradually (and seamlessly) revealed, readers will find themselves pulled more deeply into the tale, searching for answers along with Maggie and her new friends.
Author and comic artist, Faith Erin Hicks, creates a vivid portrait of Maggie's family as well as their community through black, white, and gray shading. Deep character expressions are effectively portrayed, and Hicks' use of alternating panel sizes carries the narrative along swiftly.
submitted by andrewjmac on March 17, 2013, 12:19 pm
I liked this book so much after finishing it, I read it again the next day. This is just the kind of graphic novel I like: a small story about people trying to figure out who they are and what their place is in the world. Hicks avoids cliches in her characters, making her most-pierced character her most lovably bouncy and giving us people who don't all look like they came out of a Disney movie. This is a great book for anyone who liked Raina Telgemeier's Smile and Drama.