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Friends with Boys Paperback – 1 Mar 2012


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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: First Second; Original edition (1 Mar 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596435569
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596435568
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.9 x 21.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 119,166 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

FAITH ERIN HICKS is a writer and artist in Halifax, Canada. Her first two graphic novels, Zombies Calling and The War at Ellsmere, were published by SLG Publishing. Most recently, she illustrated First Second's Brain Camp. Hicks has three brothers and was homeschooled until high school. She has never seen a ghost.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sam Quixote TOP 50 REVIEWER on 26 Jan 2014
Format: Paperback
In Chuck Klosterman's delightful book on villains, I Wear The Black Hat, the pop culture critic writes that he sometimes wishes he could just write "I LOVE THIS" or "I HATE THIS" when reviewing certain works of art and leave it at that, not (entirely) out of laziness but because teasing out the reasoning behind it dilutes the purity of his visceral reaction. I'm tempted to just say for this book "I LOVE THIS x 1000!" and it'd be true but probably not that informative!

Maggie is about to start her first day of high school after being home-schooled for years. She's also the youngest of her siblings making her the last to start high school in her family - her twin brothers, Lloyd and Zander, and oldest brother Daniel, all having started years earlier. Her mother's left the family for some reason, her dad's been promoted to police chief of their small town and everything's changing. Oh and she's also haunted by a Victorian ghost...

Like a lot of First Second books, Friends With Boys is marketed as a young adult book and the high school subject matter is certainly appropriate for that demo, but, also like a lot of their books, this one can be enjoyed by adult readers as well. On the surface, it's a wonderful coming-of-age story with loveable characters told in a compelling style, but there's also layers to the story that can be appreciated.

Coming-of-age stories tend to focus on identity, which is the case here. Maggie is finding out what kind of person she is by moving away from the safety of her family home into the wider world of the public school and making friends outside of her brothers, while her twin brothers are struggling with establishing their separate identities from one another.
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By Sailesh on 4 Jan 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The characters, the art, and the story were absolutely brilliant! Had to read it all in one go. It's one of those graphic novels where you fall in love with every single character and wish it to never stop.

Buy it!
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By Nina on 11 Sep 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a very charming and well-illustrated story. I first found Friends With Boys online (back when it was still on the 'net), and I knew I had to buy it. The illustrations are expressive, cute and casual, and the story is conveyed well. Definitely one of the better comics I've read.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 52 reviews
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Entertaining [3.5 Stars] 26 Jan 2012
By T. Adlam - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
When I read the book's inside flap--a story about a homeschooled girl, Maggie McKay, going to public high school for the first time, and as if that wasn't bad enough, she's also (literally) haunted--I was completely intrigued and prepared myself to fall in love. Unfortunately, it didn't happen that way.

The artwork reminded me of a classic comic style, but updated and with manga/anime influences, and the black/white/greyscale rendering actually contributed to some of the story's bleaker themes. Each of the characters were drawn with great expression of emotion and the wise arrangement of the panels made them easy to follow, plus it was well-written and well-edited.

But as much as I wanted to love this graphic novel, at times I found the main story muddied--it came across as a disjointed telling of too many stories in too short a space--and resulted in some of the themes/characters not being too deeply explored.

Basically, Maggie's was a coming of age story which explored themes like adjusting to new situations, socializing, and self-acceptance. On top of that, she had to deal with a number of inner demons--mainly surrounding the estrangement of her mother--which shadowed her literal haunting. However, the literal haunting seemed more like a contrivance to facilitate the story's climax than an integral part of the story.

Even with that quibble, I did find the book entertaining. Maggie's story was engrossing and, as a character, she was skillfully crafted. It's unfortunate that I can't say the same of all the remaining characters (at least, not consistently), many of which lacked dimension--again, probably stemming from the trying-to-cram-too-much-in problem I mentioned earlier.

The book left various threads untied and questions unanswered (possibly to be answered in future web comics*) and when I turned the final page, although I did enjoy it, I was still a bit disappointed. I should also note that if you're expecting a horror, a supernatural chiller, or even anything remotely creepy, you won't find it in this book.
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
ordinary life, ordinary story but great artwork 1 Jan 2012
By Yoomi - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I'm torn. I fell in love with Maggie and her brothers. I would have loved friends like Lucy and Alistair in high school. But once I was finished with this graphic novel, my mind was blank. The story felt incomplete. I have too many questions. How did the haunting fit into her life? Why her? And what about the others who could see her but weren't haunted by her? Was it resolved at the end or did she just learn to accept it? Maggie questions her mother's sudden disappearance but the boys and the father just seem to accept it. Considering the father is a cop, it seems odd.

If I ignore these nagging questions, it's a great vignette of Maggie's life starting at a public high school after being homeschooled for the first part of her life. The artwork is great and I loved the detail on every page. I just wish there was more to it. I don't expect all questions to be answered in a story (they rarely are in real life, especially in high school) but I felt that these were neglected gaps in the story rather than questions that are left up to the reader to answer.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A beautiful, subtle coming-of-age story. Highly recommended. 2 May 2014
By Brad Hawley Brad at FanLit - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Originally written for the Fantasy Literature review site.

Friends with Boys by Faith Erin Hicks

While Image is my favorite major publisher of monthly comic titles, First Second is my favorite publisher with a small output of high quality graphic novels, using the term in a very limited sense to refer to comic books that are complete, unified novels either issued at a single point with no previous monthly issues OR trade collections of monthly issues clearly designed to be complete, sustained narrative stories with thematic coherence (such as Watchmen and Daytripper). Friends with Boys is another excellent First Second graphic novel aimed at YA, and though I certainly recommend this title for a YA audience, I suggest that it will be best appreciated by an adult reader who is willing to read this fast-paced tale very slowly in order to take in fully its visual and thematic subtleties.

The story opens as Maggie is about to start ninth grade, her first year of high school. And since she has been homeschooled by her mother, she has never been to a public school and is very nervous the morning of her first day. Her father is a good-natured, long-haired police officer, and Maggie seems close to both him and her three older brothers, all of whom were also homeschooled before starting in public school in the ninth grade. Maggie has two other problems in addition to her stress over starting high school — her mother has left the family after finishing her homeschooling duties for four children, and Maggie blames herself for being too much of a tomboy and never wanting to spend as much time with her mother as she wanted to spend with her father and brothers. Maggie's second problem is that she is haunted by a ghost.

I fear that this graphic novel will be too easily passed up for the very reasons that make it such an excellent work of literature. First, the art is just plain beautiful to look at, but its primary function — as it should be — is to tell the story. And since the story acts as a character study of a young girl coming of age, the art focuses on subtle body language and facial expressions. It does such a good job that the novel takes only about an hour to read. Second, the writing is so smooth, there's nothing to slow a reader down. I couldn't stop reading it. I didn't put it down once last night. But now, the next morning as I write this review, I'm ready to read it again in order to appreciate the art on a panel-by-panel basis.

The other reason this novel could easily be overlooked is that its greatness comes in subtle moments and in a series of thematically significant anti-climatic moments. For example, Maggie's coming to terms with her mother's departure is not depicted dramatically — it's based on a few quiet scenes, and her ultimate acceptance of the situation is largely internal and thus only hinted at. Her situation with the ghost escalates, but that problem also resolves itself quietly, as it must, given the author's view of life: Our lives change slowly, almost imperceptively, in ways we almost fail to notice ourselves. In other words, Maggie's external situation in the world hardly changes from page one of the novel to the last page. Yet, at the same time, from her perspective, everything has changed because she sees herself and her brothers in a different light.

Most of the novel involves Maggie's meeting Lucy, a young girl her age, and Lucy's older brother. They dress a bit punk and are ostracized by the high school in-crowd — the school's volleyball team in this Canadian small town. As Maggie makes friends with them, the story's most realistic aspect is made clear: When we enter a social group for the first time, we don't understand how everyone connects — who likes whom, who used to get along with whom, who is kind, who is popular, and who has specific resentments. And that's Maggie's experience: She tries to figure out how her two new friends fit in at the school and what her brothers think of them and why.

Maggie also finds out how her brothers are viewed publicly, what their social roles are, as she tries to establish her own place in this new school. Once again, the author is subtle — we catch Maggie spotting a fleeting look her brother gives her new friends and watch her puzzled look in response to the cryptic facial expression of a brother she thought she knew well. These moments are at the heart of everyday life, and Faith Erin Hicks bases her entire story on those expressions and other subtle aspects of very pedestrian human interaction — and that's the genius of the work.

Friends with Boys is a wonderful break from the superhero and crime novels I love — it's enjoyable to read a work that lacks in drama and major events. It makes me see my own life differently, as is often the result of reading the best literature. This novel is a gem that you should buy for your children, particularly if they are in 7th through 10th grade, I would guess. After that, I'm afraid they might not enjoy it again until they are much older. On the surface, it deals with making friends, not judging others, and having crushes. However, no couples even date or kiss in the story; we just see sweet smiles on faces as girls are touched by the kindness of high school boys when they rise above petty behavior. But these typical ethical points are presented as subtly as everything else in the novel, and this subtlety will be appreciated most by adults who give this book the attention it deserves. I really can't recommend this book enough. I can't wait to read more by this author.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A little haunting, family saga. 27 Dec 2013
By Dee18 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
It’s Maggie’s first day of high school. After being home-schooled by her mum, in a class with her older brothers, Maggie is now going out into the big, wide public school system for the first time. It’s one of just many upheavals in Maggie’s life lately – from her mum bailing on the family a few months ago, to her dad becoming chief of police, her twin brothers Lloyd and Zander constantly fighting (more than usual) lately and her oldest brother, Daniel, being cast as lead in the school play.

But this is just the beginning of strange changes and coincidences in Maggie’s life. When she starts school she befriends punk-pixie Lucy, and her mohawked brother Alistair – both of whom seem to still be reeling from some unspoken event that happened not so long ago.

And then there’s the fact that Maggie’s ghost is back – a spirit from the churchyard has upped the ante and started following Maggie home, but to what purpose?

‘Friends with Boys’ is a graphic novel by Faith Erin Hicks.

I heard about this graphic novel through the Centre for Youth Literature, it came as recommended reading from Jordi for those who are just starting their love-affair with graphic novels. And I've got to say, as someone who has long loved young adult literature; this particular graphic novel makes for superb reading. It’s got a little bit of everything – from coming-of-age to school bullying, a little haunting and family saga.

When we meet them, Maggie’s family have settled into a new routine without their mother, who up and left the family a few months ago. We get the impression, from the family’s new (if, slightly chaotic) routine and the awkwardness that ensues when their absent mother is mentioned, that they’re all just starting to settle into the new normal. Everyone really, except Maggie who is carrying around an anvil of guilt over her mother’s departure. Maggie is also having difficulty adjusting to life after home-schooling. As the youngest sibling, she was last to leave the comfort of her mother’s teaching, and she has missed having her beloved older brothers as classmates. In the public school environment she feels lost and invisible, maybe even a little bit abandoned by her busy and popular brothers.

Erin Hicks beautifully draws the chaos of high school as seen through Maggie’s eyes, and her customized maps. Especially in contrast to the lovable chaos at home, the painful monotony of high school is perfectly communicated in repetitive panels and we really understand why Maggie misses spending time with her brothers when they absolutely steal the limelight and the laughs in their appearances.

Lucy and Alistair are a welcome relief from the painful tribes and cliques of the school environment. Maggie perhaps doesn’t find it terribly odd that siblings Lucy and Alistair spend so much time together, when Maggie herself wishes her brothers would pay her more attention at school. But Lucy and Alistair have bad blood between them, and while their story isn’t terribly explosive, it is very raw and emotional, and very well paced by Erin Hicks.

What didn’t work so well for me was the ‘haunting’ storyline. Certainly it made for some interesting imagery, but I spent majority of the novel wondering what the purpose was … and at the end Erin Hicks has to have Maggie all but spell out the correlation between her haunting and her mum’s leaving. To me, it was an odd thread left dangling and never really satisfying. But that’s my only complaint in an otherwise flawless graphic novel about growing up, growing apart and fighting for your family. Beautiful.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
quick, fun graphic novel 5 Jun 2012
By Laura (The Reading Nook - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This was my first graphic novel that i've ever read, and to be honest I think I would have enjoyed it a lot more if I had a physical copy opposed to reading an ARC galley on my nook, that I recieved via Netgalley. The format was a bit screwey, with about 10-20 pages of words and then the corresponding pictures after that, which in my opinion took away from the overall effect of it, and through no fault of its own, I felt like I had a different experience then most people because of that.

I did enjoy the story though, The main character Maggie was adorable in my opinion, and I loved her three older brothers. I felt like that they made the story what it was. Maggie had been homeschooled her whole life, and now that she's in highschool she is no longer being homeschooled but needs to move on and go to public school which means she needs to make friends, and become a part of a society that she knows nothing about.

Maggie also has a secret, she see's a ghost, and has for many years. This ghost dosen't scare her, but she dosen't quite understand why its there. This book overall was a quick, and fun read. I just don't know if I got the full experience I would have from reading a physical copy versus a e-book version, that had a bit of a weird format.
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