|One of the many refreshing things about this young adult graphic|
novel is that the "friends" of the title are protagonist Maggie's brothers.
Understandably it is "familiarity" which in large part dictates just what titles libraries can spend invaluable financial resources on (if there is no demand for a title, it doesn't make much sense to purchase it to collect dust on a shelf), I was once again pleasantly surprised to notice a title on the shelf which, though familiar to me given my status as a "comic fanboy." It was a very pleasant surprise to see Faith Erin Hicks Friends With Boys tucked (out of order) within close proximity to a past surprise, Andy Runton's Owly.
|Not surprisingly, Maggie's|
absent mother looms large.
Home-schooled her whole childhood, Maggie's first day of traditional high school is just a little scary. If that is not stressful enough, until this point in her life, Maggie's friendships have consisted primarily of the strong bond she shares with her brothers. When Maggie does begin a nascent friendship with another Lucy ("the first girl [she] can remember being friends with'"), the dialogue gets real quickly. Though our protagonist is a high school freshman, the interactions ring true universally. Yes, this is clearly a YA (Young Adult) graphic novel, but even as a 40+ year old male, Hicks' writing has a truthfulness to it for any who have been challenged with connecting with others, especially within an otherwise isolating life. As compelling as these plot points are, they do not begin to scratch the surface of the dense characterization put forth in this small volume wherein not a panel or word balloon doesn't contribute.
|Ghost in the graveyard.|
When I return Friends with Boys to the library at the start of the school day on Monday, I hope it continues to find an audience among the students at my high school. While one of my classes will soon begin a study of Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis in the coming weeks, too few students (and even more misinformed adult-types) have accepted the societal conditioning that poo-poos the graphic novel. I will continue to promote the graphic novel genre as a worthy one, and fortunately my cause becomes easier to argue thanks to accessible, meaningful young adult lit such as Friends with Boys.