Anya's ghost

Vera Brosgol

Book - 2011

Anya, embarrassed by her Russian immigrant family and self-conscious about her body, has given up on fitting in at school but falling down a well and making friends with the ghost there just may be worse.

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Review by Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Like Hope Larson's Mercury (2010), Brosgol's spooky, polished debut offers something that's still too rare in comics: a realistic, contemporary teenage girl's story. Growing up with her single Russian mother and younger brother, Anya works hard to fit in, and she distances herself from nerdy, heavily accented Dima, another Russian immigrant at her school. On a shortcut to school, Anya tumbles into a well, where a pile of bones swirls into the visible ghost of a young girl, Emily. When Anya is rescued, Emily comes along and becomes a constant companion, helping Anya cheat on tests and talk to crushes. With expert pacing and detail, Brosgol perfectly calibrates the subtle shifts from Anya and Emily's sunny, BFF bonding into the nightmarish reality that Emily has a terrifying agenda. Working in a clean-lined, cartoon style and an appropriately moody, bruiselike palette of purples and blacks, Brosgol uses clever panel arrangements and shifting close-up and aerial perspectives to amplify the action and emotion, from Anya's initial elation to her primal terror. The story of a teen who worries about appearing fresh off the boat makes this a natural companion to Gene Luen Yang's Printz Award winner, American Born Chinese (2006), and the contrast between everyday high-school concerns and supernatural horror add even further, broad appeal. New fans will hope for more from this talented newcomer.--Engberg, Gillian Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Anya Borzakovskaya is one frustrated, grouchy teenager. She's embarrassed by her Russian-emigre mom; her little brother drives her bats; she doesn't fit in at school; she can't get the boy she likes to notice her; and her only weapons are her sharp tongue and perpetual sneer. Then she falls down a well and makes a friend: the very lonely ghost of a girl named Emily, who died there a hundred years before and can't leave her bones. Anya's the only one who can see Emily, of course, but Emily's excited enough to be out in the world again (via a tiny bone Anya carries around with her) that she offers to help her new pal out in all sorts of poltergeisty ways; Anya, in return, resolves to try to solve the mystery of Emily's murder. 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. Brosgol's two-toned purple-and-black images have a bold, cartoony flair, underscoring her knack for comic timing and pacing, and making nearly every stance and facial expression her characters adopt at least a little bit funny. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review

Anya Borzakovskaya has a mouthful of a name and a head full of angst. While her single mom, a Russian immigrant, studies for citizenship and cooks greasy syrniki pancakes, Anya obsesses about her weight and tries to fit in at her not-so-ritzy private school. Then she falls down a well, where she meets a ghost who wants to be her BFF. The transparent, dead Emily helps Anya cheat on tests, coaches her on looking hot, and encourages her crush on dudely dreamboat Sean. But what starts off as a hunky-dory super-natural buddy story takes a clever twist when Anya discovers Emily's darker side and Sean's seamier side-and manages to see through both of them. VERDICT This is a YA magical realist tale with adult appeal, featuring imperfect characters who can still use their smarts and decide to take the right course. And while it's all about empowerment, the story is also wonderfully creepy and entertaining. The Moscow-born Brosgol effectively uses two-toned art with halftones, far better than the many indie artists who overuse gray scale and textures. A YALSA Great Graphic Novel for Teens nominee.-M.C. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by School Library Journal Review

Gr 7 Up-Anya, a Russian immigrant, just wants to blend in at her high school. She meets a ghost, who seems friendly at first, but once Emily's secrets are revealed, things take a surprising turn. This fantastic debut graphic novel has an atmospheric palette and clean, dramatic cartoon lines. (July) (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Horn Book Review

In this graphic novel with the appeal of Raina Telgemeier's Smile, lonely, sardonic Anya ditches school one morning to fume about her many woes: her embarrassing Russian immigrant family, her self-perceived chubbiness, an unrequited crush, her manipulative (and only) friend Siobhan, an irritatingly clingy "fresh off the boat" boy named Dima. Distracted, Anya falls into an abandoned well, where she meets Emily -- who's been dead and trapped there for ninety years. When Anya is rescued, Emily seizes the opportunity to leave her bones and the well for the thrilling world of high school. Having a ghost for a best friend is "awesome" at first (Emily helps Anya cheat on quizzes and spies on her love interest), but Anya gradually learns that Emily hasn't been exactly honest about her death -- and that she'll stop at nothing to take Anya's life for herself. Brosgol portrays teenage relationships with family, friends, and self with a subtle touch, making Anya and even Emily as relatable as they are complex and quirky. Approachable sequential art, perfectly timed and rendered entirely in black, white, and shades of indigo, tells this wryly hilarious (and occasionally spine-tingling) story of self-acceptance. katie bircher (c) Copyright 2011. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

A deliciously creepy page-turning gem from first-time writer and illustrator Brosgol finds brooding teenager Anya trying to escape the pastboth her own and the ghost haunting her.Anya feels out of place at her preppy private school; embarrassed by her Russian heritage, she has worked hard to lose her accent and to look more like everyone else. After a particularly frustrating morning at the bus stop, Anya storms off, only to accidentally fall down a well. Down in the dark hole, she meets Emily, a ghost who claims to be a murder victim trapped down in the dank abyss for 90 years. With Emily's help, Anya manages to escape, though once free, she learns that Emily has traveled out with her. At first, Emily seems like the perfect friend; however, once her motives become clear, Anya learns that "perfect" may only be an illusion. A moodily atmospheric spectrum of grays washes over the clean, tidy panels, setting a distinct stage before the first words appear. Brosgol's tight storytelling invokes the chilling feeling of Neil Gaiman's Coraline (2002), though for a decidedly older set. In addition to the supernatural elements, Brosgol interweaves some savvy insights about the illusion of perfection and outward appearance.A book sure to haunt its reader long after the last past is turnedexquisitely eerie. (Graphic supernatural fiction. 12 up)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.