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Friends with Boys 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: 8.5 x 6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #139,999 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

10 of 11 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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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By T. Adlam TOP 1000 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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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Nicola Mansfield on March 1, 2012
Format: Paperback
Reason for Reading: I enjoy the author/artist and was intrigued that the book was about homeschooled teens.

The author is obviously writing from her own life seeing as she was homeschooled until high school and has three brothers. This is the background of the main character in the book, added to Maggie's life is that her mom has just skipped out on them without her really knowing why and Maggie has been haunted by a 17th century ghost since she was about six. I really enjoyed this book. I think it gave a fairly accurate portrayal of homeschool life though Hicks did treat it like it was the 1990's, not now when it has become pretty much mainstream. (I was homeschooled for high school in the '80s and have been homeschooling my children in one way or another for the last 19 years.)

The title is a little deceptive as I thought we might get into dating and stuff, but it refers to sisters being friends with their brothers and I really appreciated this theme. I don't have any brothers but I really envied the close relationship Maggie had with hers and how the relationship between Lucy and Alistair developed also. The book deals with other typical teen subjects such as being new to a school, dealing with bullies, how to make friends and what it's like when your brother is popular but you are not. Hicks artwork is as expected and truly measures up to her other work making it a delight to look at. The only problem with this could be that she draws her characters very similar and the main two females in this book are almost identical to the two females in "The War at Ellesmere" with different hairdos.

I loved the characters, the story about the teens at school, the family dynamics, etc. but the bit about the ghost haunting was an oddity.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Miss Sam, the Librarian on January 9, 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I really enjoyed the start of this graphic novel. The art style was fun (reminded me of Scott O'Malley's Scott Pilgrims Precious Little Boxset series) Maggie is an interesting character - the youngest child of four, the only girl in the family, homeschooled and about to enter public high school. Her mother is not around having abandoned the family for some unexplained reason, but her father is a strong figure in her life and she is a confident young woman. I was ready to follow her on her new adventure in 9th grade.

So why is there a random ghost in this story? The "paranormal twist" felt very tacked on. It actually detracted for a very strong coming-of-age story. Maggie was refreshingly down to earth and funny. I see what the author wanted to do with the ghost, but the idea was poorly executed. I hope to see more from this writer/artist.

'Friends with Boys' is a good read but it has some flaws that keep it from being great. (If you want to read a coming-of-age story with a well-done paranormal twist, check out Anya's Ghost).
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