Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol
Review by Lauren
copy from library; all opinions are my own
Official Summary: 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 at the 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.
Review: I’ve wanted to read this graphic novel for a long time as I remember reading positive reviews when it first came out. I came across it at the library recently and decided I might as well give it a shot. I really liked Anya and how she felt like a regular teen girl. She’s not happy with the way she looks, even though her mom doesn’t understand the American need to be skinny. After all, she’s from Russia and while their culture doesn’t take over the book, it was great to see aspects of it throughout…from her mom being a bit stuck in the old culture to a boy at her school who is picked on for being a nerd and still having a strong Russian accent.
The only friend Anya has is Siobhan, but Brosgol shows how they aren’t normal “best friends.” I liked that their first interaction in the book has Siobhan trying to bum cigarettes off Anya; almost like an annoying older sibling. I didn’t realize they were even friends at first, and I think that was the point. It shows why Anya finds herself so easily able to accept a ghost in her life, though there are other reasons (such as Emily – the ghost’s- ability to help Anya pass tests and learn information about the guy she likes). I liked that Brosgol doesn’t have Anya accept Emily right away. I mean, she fell down a well and finds a ghost! Who would be okay with that? Her first reaction is that there is some kind of gas in the well causing her to hallucinate, which I thought was a clever reaction for Brosgol to give to Anya.
As for the actual story, I really liked it. When I was about halfway through, a friend at work commented that the second half was very different, so when things got really weird, I wasn’t shocked. It didn’t make me dislike the book, though I suppose some people might find it too much of a 180. I personally thought it made things quite interesting, even though I was enjoying the first half just fine. My one complaint is probably close to the very end…it just seemed like a sudden shift in Anya concerning Emily. Regardless, I really enjoyed this one and would love to read more by the author/illustrator!!