And now I have. Starting with The Adventures of Superhero Girl, and moving along to the excellent Friends With Boys.
And Friends With Boys is a different animal indeed. Canadian storyteller Faith Erin Hicks creates this emotion laden tale with a hint of the supernatural thrown in.
We start with Maggie, a fourteen year girl living in a small town with her three older brothers and her dad. She wakes up scared in the first few pages, all because it is not only her first day in grade nine in a public high school, but also the pain of her mother recently leaving the family is still raw. The absence of the mother, who home schooled all the kids till they reached the magical age of high school, is palpable in those opening pages and permeates the rest of the story.
Terrified by everything new now happening, Maggie slowly makes her way around school, surviving crowds she has never experienced before, gasping at new sights, and slowly learning how to talk to people who are not related to her. She also witnesses her brothers in a different light entirely. Oldest Daniel seems to be friends with virtually everyone and provides the most support to Maggie. Twin brothers Zander and Lloyd constantly fight and argue, but now it feels more personal, less fun.
Into this mix and mess of emotions and turmoil comes something new for Maggie. Friends. A quasi goth brother and sister named Alistair and Lucy, who emit secrets of their own. Pieces of this past slowly dribble to her throughout the story, making Maggie realize how even more complex people are.
All these entwining stories confuse and confound Maggie, who just wants everyone and everything to be fine. As time and troubles march on, she decides the only thing she can make better is to save the ghost.
That’s right, the ghost. For years, ever since she was a child, a ghost of a teen girl from long ago would occasionally float by, silently keeping watch on her. Maggie has no concept why this is happening, but a quest to rectify whatever issues the ghost has with moving on becomes a central thrust later in the book.
In so many ways, Friends With Boys deals with not just a teen girl facing life, but facing life with a sense of abandonment. Faith Erin Hicks expands and explores what Maggie goes through, adding layers of angst from loneliness and conflicted feelings to the pain.
Friends With Boys screams for a sequel, all to see how the rest of grade nine goes, in the physical world, the emotional spectrum, and the spiritual realm, for Maggie.
She has learned much, but still has much more to learn.
…is currently reading The Death And Life Of Superman by Roger Stern.