Title: Anya’s Ghost
Writer: Vera Brosgol
Publishing House: First Second
Date of Publication: June 7th 2011
Rating: 5 stars
‘’No one has the right to decide who gets to live or die.’’
I will tell you straight away that this is so much more than a comic. I thought it would be a cute tale, a whimsical ghost story and, following a discussion with my dear friend Marina, I decided to try my luck with Brosgol’s work. I was definitely in for a surprise. A bleak, haunting, and yet quirky and beautiful surprise.
Anya is a young girl in high school. Having arrived to the USA from Russia before primary school, she has adopted to the ways of her new homeland. She has even lost her accent and yet her life is anything but easy. Her mother, a cheerful, loving woman, and her six-year-old brother don’t seem to help because Anya wants to fit in, influenced by the vile notion of the ‘’popular’’ student. One day, after a really bad day and a strange accident in the park, she finds herself attached to the ghost of a girl who died under mysterious ways. Her life changes drastically in ways that she couldn’t have anticipated when she decided to make the 90-year-old spirit her new best friend.
Yes, this comic is rich in beautiful illustrations whose palette consists of blue, white, black and grey but this is just the tip of the iceberg of excellence. This is a comic book that could have easily become a spectacular novel. The themes that Brosgol communicates through the storyline are plenty and utterly relevant to our times and the lives of the young students, particularly in the USA. First and foremost, the difficulty of being accepted when your roots lie in a far-away country that your classmates know only through hearsay and prejudice spread by ignorant, uneducated fools. Moreover, you don’t meet the standards of the time, you’re not blonde, skinny and stupid, you haven’t managed to gain a place in the cliques therefore you don’t exist. And the worst danger comes when you are tempted to shed off your identity and your heritage like a skin that has no use anymore just because the social circles demand everyone to be the same. And Anya falls in love so what can she do? That’s where the ghost comes to help and the price will be… but you have to read it to find out. Love is such a weird thing…It can make our lives a brighter place and it can drive us to deeds that we never thought ourselves possible to commit. And then, there is the devilishly thin line between love and obsession…
I have to stop here because I’m dangerously close to start spoiling the plot. What I can tell you is that this is a comic book to be enjoyed and taken seriously. I felt that this isn’t only targeted to teenagers but to adults as well since the social commentary is evident and provides an opportunity for parents and educators to think of the problems of the young ones and the ways to help them accept themselves and avoid the trap of the notion of the ‘’popular’’ kid. I was more than satisfied with Anya’s development and her courage to recognize her mistakes and illusions…