I borrowed Friends With Boys from Debbie while I was loaning her Relish – My Life in the Kitchen, one of my favourite graphic novels. Friends With Boys is the first graphic novel I’ve actually read since Relish nearly a year ago. I was particularly looking forward to it because it’s part contemporary – about a teenager called Maggie who used to be homeschooled until her mother left home suddenly, and now she has to find a way to navigate the treacherous world of high school – and part paranormal – Maggie is haunted by a ghost in the local cemetery she visits. I adore all things YA contemporary, whether novels, movies or TV series, and so I’d love to see more graphic novels in a similar vein. I’ve just bought This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki & Jillian Tamaki and there’s a great list over on Women You Should Know.
I very much enjoyed the coming-of-age aspect of Friends With Boys, about the awkwardness of growing up and wanting to fit in but not really knowing how. Maggie’s always had her older brothers for emotional and academic support but now she’s alone and has to fend for herself – until she meets Alistair and Lucy, two school outsiders. I love that the artwork in young adult graphic novels perfectly captures what it is to be young. Maggie is authentic in her shyness and teenage awkwardness, and this is depicted wonderfully. Friends With Boys is a spirited story about growing up, making friends and starting somewhere new, and it touches on family relationships and the loneliness that comes with losing someone close to you. Although the majority of graphic novels are fantasy, illustrations enable the reader to see each character’s emotions quite clearly, in a way that’s incredibly colourful and vivid despite the black and white lines.
Friends With Boys has an unexpected paranormal twist that all becomes clear towards the end, and allows our protagonists to be a little adventurous, although I would have been happy with a completely ‘realistic’ story too! Friends With Boys is an enjoyable foray into the small but diverse selection of coming-of-age graphic novels. Faith Erin Hicks is illustrating Rainbow Rowell’s upcoming fantasy graphic novel and I can’t wait to see it!
Published: 28th February 2012
Publisher: First Second Books