Book Review: Anya's Ghost

Author/Illustrator: Vera Brosgol
Publisher: First Second Books (June 7, 2011)
Audience: Young Adult
Source: Purchased a copy
Graphic Novel * Paranormal * Young Adult 

Description from Goodreads:
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. Spooky, sardonic, and secretly sincere, Anya’s Ghost is a wonderfully entertaining debut from author/artist Vera Brosgol.

Last summer, I discovered the world of graphic novels, particularly those for children and teens. (Yes, they have been around for a long-time, but I was slow in catching up.)   As I made them a part of my regular book diet, I also found ways to use them in working with children.  Consequently, I have tried to take note of new releases.  One of those new releases that caught my eye was Vera Brosgol's debut graphic novel - Anya's Ghost.

One of the qualities in a graphic novel that appeals to me is the creator's ability to deal with elements of real life in a way that will connect with readers.  Brosgol's first book does exactly this.  Her debut deals with themes familiar to most teens - fitting in, crushes, family relationships & expectations, friendship, decisions & consequences, and also how all this is made more complicated by being an immigrant. However, Brosgol doesn't stop there.  The real twist comes with the introduction of a century old ghost who is more than eager and willing to be Anya's BFF.  

Another aspect of the book that made the story work for me was that Anya truly grows as a character.  Through her experiences and interactions with her new friend, Anya comes to learn more about herself, those around her and what is important in life.  This can be tricky in a YA story.  How do you talk about things like being responsible or making hard decisions without coming across as preachy?  Brosgol manages to do it with humor, and sincerity.  

I also loved Brosgol's illustrative style.  Here is where I struggle....I lack all the right words to best describe how the simple color scheme used throughout the book fits the mood and theme or how the art is engaging and fun.  I am sure that there is a way to do this but unfortunately, I seem to lack the right words.  Maybe the best way to share about Brosgol's style is to share with you the official book trailer.

Check out the official book trailer for Anya's Ghost:

I am excited to add Vera Brosgol to my list of graphic novelists to keep an eye on.  She has a solid debut and I look forward to future books from this talented artist and writer. 

Vera Brosgol details the process she used to create Anya's Ghost.  Click here to read it.

Here is an interview with Vera Brosgol by Macmillan:
Check out Vera Brosgol's website:

Follow Vera Brosgol on Twitter: @verabee

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