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Friends with Boys Paperback – February 28, 2012

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Paperback, February 28, 2012
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 - 16 years
  • Grade Level: 7 - 11
  • Lexile Measure: 390L (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: First Second; Original edition (February 28, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596435569
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596435568
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #114,604 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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.
How much of Friends With Boys is inspired by your life?

I used my own life as a starting point for Friends With Boys. I have three brothers (although I am the oldest, not the youngest) and I was homeschooled until high school. However, I have never seen a ghost. I put a lot of the emotional chaos I felt going into high school for the first time into Friends With Boys. The main character's first day at school freak-out is very similar to what happened to me on my first day. I remember running away from the school and going to my local library and hiding there until my parents came to get me. It's funny, now that I think about it, being so scared of my peers. Everyone's scared in high school, and everyone thinks they're the only one. 

You grew up without a TV. Was that weird for you? 

It was pretty weird. I don't think it's such a big deal now, because now there is the internet, but when I was a kid, the internet was just text on a black screen and TV was the great cultural touchstone. Not having a TV meant no watching GI JOE or Transformers (I did manage to sneak in some My Little Pony, but the episodes I saw were few and far between), so I didn't have that immediate connection to kids my age. It's hard to play GI JOE or My Little Pony when you're not aware of the plotlines. I think TV is a pretty amazing storytelling medium, so I'm not anti-TV by any stretch of the imagination, but I have a huge cultural gap in my knowledge. I don't look back on childhood shows like Transformers and feel nostalgic towards them; I watch them as an adult and they look terribly animated and written and they aren't fun. The original My Little Pony, however, remains awesome. 

Who are your favourite creators and how do they influence your work? 

On this side of the globe, I really enjoy the work of Jeff Smith (Bone), Raina Telgemeier (Smile), Mike Mignola/John Arcudi/Guy Davis (BPRD), and Nate Powell (Swallow Me Whole). Elsewhere, I love the work of Naoki Urasawa (Pluto), Hiromu Arakawa (Fullmetal Alchemist) and Claire Wendling. 

It seems a disproportionally large number of cartoonist come from Canada. Is there something in the water up there?

Yes. At birth, all Canadian children are brought before the great Wheel of Canadian Destiny, to spin for our future. There are various specific Canadian careers on the Wheel of Destiny, such as cartoonist, comedian, animator, hockey player, hockey fan and Saturday Night Live producer. I don't actually remember this happening (I was a baby, after all), but I assume my Wheel of Canadian Destiny spin landed me on Cartoonist, and here I am. I'm pretty sure the Wheel of Canadian Destiny only has about six or seven options on it, which is why 1/6th of the country is cartoonists. A huge amount, for sure. 

Why did you start drawing comics?

I started making comics because it seemed like fun creative outlet, and putting them online was easy. I'd always been very attracted to the medium (I grew up reading Asterix and Tintin, like all good Canadian children), but there weren't many comics that I had access to that seemed to be made with me in mind. So I started making my own comics, the comics I wanted to read, even though I was absolutely terrible at them! I didn't even know how to draw when I first started making comics. And now here I am 12 years and 1800 comic pages later, making my living as a cartoonist ... it is something of a surprise. 

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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As for the story, the plot and characters ended up being sweet, fun, and very relatable.
Cheyenne Teska
Hicks' pen and ink drawings capture the tangled emotions of her characters through their facial expressions and body language.
Hicks's characters, thus far, have discussed issues to a believable extent, and I appreciate that.
Karen K. Hart

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By T. Adlam TOP 500 REVIEWER on January 25, 2012
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.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Yoomi VINE VOICE on January 1, 2012
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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Brad Hawley Brad at FanLit on May 2, 2014
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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Dee18 TOP 1000 REVIEWER on December 26, 2013
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.
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