Anya Borzakovskaya is one frustrated, grouchy teenager. She's embarrassed by her Russian-émigré 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)
Children's Literature - Kathie M. Josephs
Anyone who has ever attended school understands the importance of having a friend. Anya not only has no friend, but she is embarrassed by her parents who came from Russia. She tries so hard to fit in that she even loses her accent and tries to eat and dress like Americans. One day, Anya accidentally falls down a well where she meets a skeleton and the ghost of a girl called Emily. Emily befriends her and is able to "hitch" a ride when Anya is rescued. Emily becomes a fast friend and even helps Anya on her tests, gives her advice on how to dress, and even suggestions on how to get attention from a boy she likes. Anya has decided that having a ghost for a friend is better than having no friend at all and shares information that later on she wishes she had not. Unfortunately, Emily is not what she portrayed herself to be and Anya now has a new problem. She immediately needs to figure out a way to protect her family from Emily's dark side. This book grabs the reader's attention from the beginning. It has mystery, intrigue, and moves quickly and smoothly through the storyline. What is a bit fascinating is the decision to do the graphics in black with absolutely no color, but I must say it works. It is definitely a girl's book. If I were to give points from 1 to 5 with 5 being the best, I would give it a 5. This is really a great story and is thought provoking. Reviewer: Kathie M. Josephs
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 supernatural 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.
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—Anya is a Russian girl who wants to fit in with her American classmates. She falls down a well and meets a ghost named Emily, who was murdered. They become friends and promise to help one another. Emily helps Anya get closer Sean, a boy she likes. In return, Anya promises to help solve Emily's 90-year-old murder. The story is rather dark and at times darkly humorous, especially when Anya fantasizes about Sean. It gets even darker when Anya realizes that Emily has been concealing a very dangerous truth about herself. Anya's character is not always sympathetic-she cheats on tests, she is often rude to her friends, and she refuses to help another Russian student because he's too "fobby" (Fresh Off the Boat). But her interactions with Emily and Sean change her and help her to evolve into a character whom readers can admire. The artwork is made up of clean, cartoony lines, reminiscent of that in Hope Larson's Mercury (S & S, 2010). The mix of mystery, horror, and the coming-of-age theme combined with the appealing graphic style will make Anya's Ghost an ideal choice for reluctant teen readers.—Andrea Lipinski, New York Public Library
A deliciously creepy page-turning gem from first-time writer and illustrator Brosgol finds brooding teenager Anya trying to escape the past—both 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 turned—exquisitely eerie. (Graphic supernatural fiction. 12 & up)
The New York Times
Drawing in a deep violet palette, Brosgol brilliantly recreates the torments of teenage girlhood, and is especially adept at capturing its spectrum of angst…It all feels incredibly real, even as a ghost story. With an attitude and aptitude reminiscent of Marjane Satrapi (Persepolis)…Brosgol has created a smart, funny and compassionate portrait of someone who, for all her sulking and sneering, is the kind of daughter many parents would like to have. And the kind of girl many of us maybe once were.
From the Publisher
“Anya's Ghost is a masterpiece, of YA literature and of comics.” Neil Gaiman
“Remarkable. . . . With an attitude and aptitude reminiscent of Marjane Satrapi (Persepolis) who likewise conveyed the particulars of an immigrant adolescence, Brosgol has created a smart, funny and compassionate portrait of someone who, for all her sulking and sneering, is the kind of daughter many parents would like to have. And the kind of girl many of us maybe once were.” The New York Times