Ghost stories can be pretty horrifying. Some have grisly looking spirits erupting from dark corners of long abandoned mansions. Others feature ghastly specters wandering cemeteries at night, hoping for someone from the land of the living to enter. Anya’s Ghost is a ghost story of a different kind. What if you met a ghost that seemed a lot like you? Someone who wanted to go with you to school, read the same fashion magazines, watch the same TV shows? Doesn’t sound quite as horrifying does it? That’s exactly what Anya thought too. Unfortunately for Anya, ghosts are always as transparent as they seem.
In Anya’s Ghost, author Vera Brosgol creates a graphic novel that blends humor, drama and suspense. Her illustrations are simple but affective, using a grey scale palette and focusing more on giving the book style and infusing it with character rather than creating overly detailed artwork. However, the ideas within Anya’s Ghost are not quite as simple, and will hit rather close to home for most readers.
Anya is a girl struggling to find an identity. Torn between her family who are Russian immigrants and an American culture at school that demands conformity, Anya is more and more choosing the latter lifestyle over the example her mother has tried to make. Throughout the book, we see Anya dealing with issues of cultural identity, self-confidence, body image – basically the kind of issues most teens deal with when they’re in high school. Plus, you know, there’s a ghost.
It’s an interesting dynamic between Anya and her newly found ghost friend, Emily. Emily was about Anya’s age when she passed away and has plenty of advice to give her about family, school and boys, all through the point of view of someone living in 1918.
Through the course of the book, Anya realizes that this helpful ghost may not be what she seems and ends up discovering more about the Emily’s life (and death) than she ever wanted to know. The results of these epiphanies are thrilling and lead to a climax that you’ll have to read to get the details. Highly recommended.
Reviewed by J. J., CLP-Beechview