Description: After years of homeschooling, Maggie is starting high school. It's pretty terrifying. Maggie's big brothers are there to watch her back, but ever since Mom left it just hasn't been the same. Besides her brothers, Maggie's never had any real friends before. Lucy and Alistair don't have lots of friends either. But they eat lunch with her at school and bring her along on their small-town adventures.
Missing mothers...distant brothers...high school...new friends... It's a lot to deal with. But there's just one more thing.
MAGGIE IS HAUNTED.
Stats: YA Graphic Novel, 220 pages, First Published by First Second, February 2012.
My Rating: 5 STARS, A Reading Robyn Favourite.
If you're interested in reading Friends With Boys and would like a free preview you can read the first 20 pages on the official website.
I'll just come out and say it, Friends With Boys is my favourite graphic novel I've read this year. Every graphic novel I read after this will have some stiff competition for my love. I honestly don't know if it can be done.
Hick's is one hell of an interesting storyteller and a lot of that has to do with her artistic talent. The story itself is pretty simple. Maggie is about to make the big transition from homeschooling to her the first day of high school and with this she's going to have to get use to change. Also, there's this ghost women stalking her. All very straightforward, normal things. Where the story really comes to life is through the characters. The best sort of graphic novels are the ones where expressions say more than words. A look, a turn, a motion, all tell you everything you need to know and when paired with the perfect words it makes the story. It's a critical part of conversation and in the case of Friends With Boys it's the art that makes it stand out.
Needless to say, Hick's has quickly become my favourite person, so imagine my happiness when I realize she's done the art for Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong written by Prudence Shen. Like Friends With Boys, the praise for Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong caught my attention so much so that I've already put out a hold for it. I'm pretty sure I should just add everything First Second publishes to my to-read list. I don't normally have favourite publishers, but these people are super stars with everything from Anya's Ghost to everything Gene Luen Yang.
In my search for everything Faith Erin Hicks I also discovered that she has a handful of webcomics, including the completed Demonology 101 and the incomplete The Adventures of Superhero Girl. You can see the full list on her official author website.
Now with all this new material to read and things to add to my list I realize I haven't talked much about the actual book I'm gushing over.
Friends With Boys has this way of making a coming of age story both special (there's that mysterious ghost lady that I'm just going to continue to ignore) and yet also very grounded that it leaves you feeling like you know these people. You can feel the love Maggie has for her family and golly do you leave this story feeling the love.
Each character has a stand out moment in the book, which means I want to talk about every single one of them, so here goes nothing. Everyone has their own history, which means their story doesn't start the same day Maggie's does. There is an unspoken history that everyone is dealing with. It's the way the characters weave together that brings each one of them to the forefront in a meaningful way. Aside from that they're all just adorable. From hiding behind tree's in shame, to zombie Shakespeare, to manly hugs. All I wanted to do was snuggle them.
I would highly recommend this to anyone looking for a lovely read with the best possible artwork. And yes, I'm going to finish this review not talking about the ghost because really this book isn't about her... although I do seriously love her hair.