I heard about this book over at the NPR a couple weeks ago, which makes this an incredibly fast turnaround, for me, for hearing about, ordering up, and reading a book!
It almost didn’t happen, though. The first few pages of this graphic novel are all, “Wah, wah, I’m an immigrant child and I don’t wanna be, I wanna be AMERICAN and get skinny by eating LOW FAT POP TARTS and I have crush on a guy with a GIRLFRIEND and I get so little allowance I can only buy ONE pack of cigarettes a month, wah wah,” and then Anya falls down an abandoned well and I am like HAH YOU DESERVE IT THE END. And I closed the book, and was like, well, there’s that then, but then I was like okay, fine, I’ll stick around at least ’til the ghost. And then I didn’t stop reading.
So, yes, there’s all the immigrant stuff, which is rather like the other First Second book I read, American Born Chinese, and really, I shouldn’t have doubted, because also like that book Anya gets hers for all the whining and becomes a much better person by the end. Spoilers? Probably not.
What happens is, she falls down this well and finds a skeleton and then finds a ghost, who is all, “I’ve been trapped down here for 90 years and really, couldn’t you help me see the world a bit?” at first, and becomes very slowly more creepy and then menacing and the art is wonderful because you can literally see this change happening. And, as in all good horror stories, the creepy and menacing parts of the ghost are really just exaggerations of Anya’s own life and potential future.
And even if you’re not into finding-yourself stories or ghosts or whatnot, there’s plenty of horrible high school stuff you can look nostalgically back on, like tests you haven’t studied for and showing your British-style pants in gym class and finding out that the hot guy at school is a total loser, actually, and did I say nostalgically? I meant HOLY HECK AM I GLAD I AM NOT IN HIGH SCHOOL ANYMORE.
Recommendation: Right, so, yes. Give this one a chance!