Text & Artwork: Vera Brosgol
Publisher Info: Publisher: First Second Books; Distributor: Pan MacMillan; Age Rating: young adult; Hardcover: 224 pages; Dimensions: 8.6 x 6.1 x 0.9 inches.
Pub. Date: 06/07/2011
Retail Price: $19.99
There's something peculiar about one abandoning their native culture and assimilating another, Brosgol explains, because the desperate attempt of one immigrant child (or of all immigrant children, for that matter) to "belong to something that seem[s] so big and good" is to also, consciously, forget that he or she in fact already does.
Perhaps, as a five-year-old kid sleeping on a bed of newspapers at JFK Int'l Airport fresh from Moscow, USSR, Brosgol wasn't "consciously" suppressing the immense national culture her family had left behind. But in the years that followed, a few frustrating ESL classes and years of grammar school teasing may have recommended otherwise.
Anya's Ghost is Brosgol's first book. It's a graphic novel published with the lingering intentions of a memoir, but is ultimately much cooler, since Anya's Ghost also rests comfortably in the genres of supernatural and suspense. The graphic novel is about a high school girl who falls into a bit of odd luck, quite literally, when she drops into an abandoned well one day. Things get a little weird after that. The girl, Anya, discovers a pile of bones at the bottom of the well that belonged to a little girl. Beyond that, the little girl's ghost, elated at her new company, declares Anya her new best friend, and so inserts herself into the otherwise typical life of a dispassionate teenager.
Anya's Ghost takes place in the present -- the main character's bedroom is decorated with posters for The Shins and Weezer, her bed accented by a large DOMO plush doll.
The girl isn't particularly fond of her boring economics class, the leggy blonde who hangs all over her crush, or her pronounced Russian genes (long black hair and symmetrical freckles?), but honestly, what teenager is? It isn't as if Anya has time to think about this stuff anyways.... storming off the school bus into a nearby park and absentmindedly dropping into an old well.
Anya's Ghost is the result of an eventful intersection of supernatural drama with various echoes of Anya in "teen crisis mode." Brosgol ensures this by way of her warm and clean visual style, as well as her affection for highly expressive characters. Anya's Ghost is a very, very easy read. But for one or two minor hiccups in pacing, where the narrative control doesn't transition too smoothly, the book is wholly charming.