Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol. | Format: Paperback, 221 pages, Square Fish, Macmillan, 2011. | Source: Library. | Add this book to your Goodreads TBR!
I went into Anya’s Ghost completely blind. In my quest to discover the medium of graphic novels, this was one I saw mentioned a bunch of times. So I picked it up. And read it in two sittings (it would have been one sitting if I hadn’t been interrupted by life). And I loved it. I’m not sure what I expected going into it, maybe nothing except a really satisfying fast read. Anya’s Ghost was more than satisfying, it was definitely fast, and it actually reminded me at times of another graphic novel, American Born Chinese (read my review here). This book by Vera Brosgol touches on being embarrassed/resentful of one’s heritage and trying to fit in at school, which were also prominent themes in American Born Chinese. The graphic novels are very different, as Anya’s Ghost is paranormal and takes a dark twist, and is perhaps more suited for a slightly older teenage audience.
Anya is a Russian immigrant–she came to the United States when she was five. But she was bullied even at that young age because of her accent, because of her clothes from goodwill, and because she was fat. Now in high school, she’s lost the accent and gotten clothes to make her fit in with the crowd, but she’s self-conscious about her curvy body, has a crush on an unattainable guy, and has only one friend who is more into smoking cigarettes and being brutally honest than anything else. Anya is tired of how unfulfilling her school life is, and when she accidentally falls down a not-so-empty well, her life is abruptly and extremely changed–but maybe not for the better: She encounters the skeleton of a girl who has been dead for nearly a century, and the ghost of this girl follows Anya home…
This graphic novel is humorous, sad, and realistic. I sympathized with Anya’s struggles and grinned at her triumphs. The story has darker, spooky/creepy moments and, as I said earlier, takes a very grim turn at about the last quarter of the book. (Was not expecting that, but maybe I should have. This is a ghost story, after all.) Anya’s Ghost is an addicting read, with beautiful artwork that is colored in black, white, gray, and purple (yes, purple!) hues. I think I’ll end this review here because I don’t want to give away anything. Pick it up and enjoy every page. I am eagerly looking forward to reading any more books Vera Brosgol has to offer. ♦