Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Epically Wonderful Friends With Boys

We got this graphic novel in at work and something about the art immediately caught my attention. I'm not sure what it was exactly but I kept pulling it off of the shelf to check it out. I've been trying to be better about buying books that I know nothing about on whims so I requested it from the library instead (I did learn that it's a webcomic but I prefer it in print).

I finally picked it up and am happy to report that I am delighted with it.

I think it's really easy for writers to romanticize or preach about what it's like to be a teenager. To make it seem like everything should always be okay or to make almost lecture readers about how good being a teen was and should be. I don't see anything wrong with saying 'hey, things are okay, have a little fun' but the fact is that things aren't always okay.

Faith Erin Hicks takes being a teenager and the terror of the beginning of high school and is honest about it. Things aren't always easy. Stereotypes work both ways. As much as you want to, you can't fix everything. I know some people won't be excited about that last one. So many parents and adults want teenagers to think that they can do anything. But I think too much of that makes failing hurt more. But I loved that the end of Friends With Boys shows Maggie failing to make everything okay but showing that she was still going to be okay herself. That she still had friends and her brothers even if she couldn't fix everything.

I'm, perhaps, a little slow but it wasn't until I finished it and thought about it for a minute that I realized how awesomely Hicks manged to weave in different issues that people face in high school. Maggie, through seeing ghosts, learns that she can't fix everything. Daniel is bullied because he's the guy who would rather do theatre than play sports. Lucy is bullied because she looks different. Lloyd and Zander cover the backlash of not doing something that you want to avoid a stereotype. Alastair is both seeing people for who they are now and not being pressured to do things that you don't want to. Through all of these lessons, that don't really feel like lessons, is the resounding idea of 'Be who you are and let other people who they are.'

I love that this didn't focus on Maggie being weird, and it could have. But shying away from focusing on that made what it was saying so much better.

Usually I like more back story on things like Maggie and her brothers seeing the ghost but something about the way that it's handled in Friends With Boys just worked. It's important but not a central focus. It just is. They see this one specific ghost and that's fine. It's used as more of a tool than a plot point and somehow that works just fine.

Overall, I give Friends With Boys a Rating of Massively Epic.

I recommend Friends with Boys to anyone nervous about entering high school or just wants to read a fun high school centric graphic novel.

Have any of you read it?

I am hoping to finish Beautiful Redemption in the next day or so. I just really wanted to pick this one up.

Until then,

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