Great Illustrated Books

Anya's Ghost

By Vera Brosgol

First Second, 2011
Pages : 224
Suggested Ages: 12-18
ISBN: 9781596437135

Misfit teen Anya attends a private high school where the only people who really talk with her are tough-girl frenemy Siobhan and fellow Russian immigrant Dima, whom Anya deems too “fobbie” (fresh off the boat) to be her friend. She wants to be more American, especially more slender like most of the other girls in school, but it’s not easy with her single mom plying her with heavy, fried Russian breakfasts. Then one day, her mind filled with all her problems, Anya walks right into a hole in the ground and falls into an abandoned well, where she finds a skeleton. This skeleton has a ghost, a teenage girl, who helps get Anya rescued, and then follows Anya home. She says her name is Emily Reilly, and she was murdered ninety years before. Before long, Emily starts helping Anya pass her exams, dress more fashionably, and stalk her secret crush, school basketball star Sean. At first, Anya enjoys her new BFF, but as time goes by she realizes that Emily has taken over a lot of her life. When Anya tries to do things her own way, Emily threatens her friends and family.

Brosgol’s art is economical but expressive, using heavy black lines and shades of murky purple to set the mood; she uses her art to build the suspense, allowing readers to notice Emily becoming more sinister before Anya realizes what is happening. Anya is far from a perfect person: she smokes, cuts classes, disrespects her immigrant mother, and she’s willing to let Emily help her cheat in order to succeed and become more popular. However, when she realizes what trouble she’s in and that her family faces danger from the ghost, she finds the courage to do the right thing. Teen readers will find a great, suspenseful ghost story along with the story of a teenage girl trying to find her own identity.

Reviewed by : KK


If you love this book, then try:

Tan, Shaun. Tales From Outer Suburbia. Arthur A. Levine Books, 2009.

Tan, Shaun. The Arrival. Arthur A. Levine Books, 2007.

Satrapi, Marjane. Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2004.

Critics have said

Brosgol's debut graphic novel���taut, witty, and breezily paced���seems to be heading in a very familiar direction, and then, abruptly, veers off toward a completely different and much more clever third act.
Publishers Weekly

The mix of mystery, horror, and the coming-of-age theme combined with the appealing graphic style will make Anya's Ghost an ideal choice for reluctant teen readers.
School Library Journal

A deliciously creepy page-turning gem from first-time writer and illustrator Brosgol finds brooding teenager Anya trying to escape the past���both her own and the ghost haunting her.
Kirkus Reviews