Summary: Maggie has been homeschooled for years and is starting her first day in a traditional high school. The youngest in her family and the only girl since her mother’s recent disappearance, Maggie is used to hanging out with her older brothers and her father and needs time to adjust to high school life. Fortunately she is immediately befriended by Lucy and her brother Alistair and while they are considered the freaks of the school Maggie fits right in with them. Haunted by a widow whose husband and three sons died at sea, Maggie is a bit of a freak herself. When connections are made and Maggie opens up about being haunted, the trio come up with a plan to give the ghost some peace. But it’s going to take some family support to fix things when the situation goes awry.
Number of Pages: 211
Age Range: 13-15
Review: Friends With Boys was recommended to me just a couple of weeks ago at the Ontario Library Association Super Conference by Andrew, an exhibitor at the Expo from the Toronto graphic novel store, The Beguiling Books & Art. I’m so glad he recommended it. Full of memorable characters brought to life with vivid illustrations and short, succinct prose, Friends With Boys is a highly enjoyable read that left me wanting a sequel.
I loved Maggie because she is a thoughtful character, but I found I loved her brothers even more. Hicks introduces them with a scene of brotherly aggression that completely sets up their love/hate family relationship. I loved that despite their personal issues, they all have Maggie’s back when she needs them and they aren’t afraid to expression their affection for each other.
And then there’s spirited Lucy and her mysterious brother Alistair. Lucy’s willingness to befriend Maggie was aptly portrayed, and when Alistair’s whole story comes out and he stands up for himself with his former friends, Hicks’ subtle illustration of Maggie’s feelings in that moment was insightful and powerful.
I would recommend this book to reluctant female readers in their early teens. The characters are well-developed and the theme of being an outsider is one teens will easily identify with through Hicks’ skilled illustrations.
It’s challenging to pick out good quotes from a graphic novel, because in a graphic novel there are usually more illustrations than words. A memorable quote from a graphic novel would be an illustration, which means I should be scanning in pages to include one. It’s a bit high-tech for me, so instead I’ll tell you that you can see a sample of Friends With Boys here to get an idea of Hicks’ multi-layered illustrations. I do have one word-based quote though, and I promise it’s not misspelled.
“‘Jebus, Maggie, use your words.'” – Lloyd from Friends With Boys by Faith Erin Hicks, page 172