Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol follows the story of Anya Borzakovskaya, a girl in high school going through some problems that many could relate to; she is self-conscious about her body, she feels like she does not fit in, and does not like to talk about her family. But, on one day where all of her problems seemingly pile on top of each other, she accidentally falls down a well. At the bottom of this well, she finds the skeleton, and ghost, of Emily Reilly, a girl who died ninety years ago. After being rescued from the well, she realizes that a piece of Emily’s skeleton has found it’s way into her bookbag, allowing her ghost to be free from the bottom of the pit, and to go wherever the piece goes. From this their story begins, but will it be a happy ending for the two involved, and is everything as it seems?
This graphic novel is extremely relatable, and I would say a great read for anyone wanting to pick it up. The way the humor and grounded story present itself make the book an incredible experience, with great art on top. Vera Brosgol never seemed to make me lose interest in her characters. The way she writes, in my opinion, perfectly balanced the supernatural elements with intriguing characters. Friendship, self confidence, and a whole bunch of other topics are brought up in this book for discussion, and the book portrays these issues brilliantly. From what it means to be a good person, to being yourself, and everything not being as perfect as seems to be were all greatly touched upon in her writing. The art is fantastic as well. The emotions and expressions were greatly conveyed, and the scenery and acts were greatly realized. All around, the book is fantastic. A great balance of humor, honesty, angst, and the supernatural. I cannot really think of anything bad to say about it. If you have the opportunity to read it, you should pick it up. I highly recommend it.
With this story, many songs could come to mind because of the different messages and heart found through it’s storytelling. One song that came to mind was Houdini by Foster The People. In the book, Anya is seen in some aspects trying to disappear from the predicaments she happens to be found in. Whether it is being embarrassed at school, to being embarrassed about her upbringing, she finds things that she wants to escape from. But, she doesn’t want to change. She wants to be herself, but also fit in somewhat. When talking about the song based on it’s lyrics, you could say there is a connection. The singer doesn’t want to be different than who he is, and in the lyrics, the narrator says, “I don’t want to compromise.” But that doesn’t make the narrator comfortable at all times, sometimes he just wants the world to accept who he is, and he wants to feel comfortable. But there are struggles to being yourself and being comfortable, which could sometimes lead to struggle and troubles, whether it is with others or yourself. This could be found in the song and in the characterization of Anya (“sometimes I wanna disappear”). When talking about the tempo and overall mood of the song, there is also another connection. When I listen to the song, I hear an uplifting tempo. Calming and energetic, if that makes sense. Matched with the lyrics, it feels like making the best out of your situation. Trying to feel comfortable even when you are struggling. I also saw this in Anya’s Ghost. Even though she struggles, Anya tries to make the best out of things, or at least make herself comfortable. She finds a ghost of a girl who died ninety years ago and make friends with her. She starts to feel more confident in herself throughout the book. She is being herself. And sometimes she is embarrassed, and there are struggles, but she is always herself. That is why I think the book and song could make a good pairing.
Notes/Moments (*SPOILER ALERT*)
This section is to point out some cool or noteworthy moments that happened in the book and why they are cool or noteworthy in detail, so if you haven’t read the book yet, you may want to hold off on reading this section just yet.
– There are a lot of great moments in the book. A lot of great characterization and scenes. This can be seen in the great dialogue for Anya. A lot of wit, and in that wit, there is heart and concern. The dialogue and humor in general is really well done.
– Also, for example, a great scene found in the book is when Anya goes to the party, and the preparation that comes with it. Beforehand, there is a nice scene shown of nervousness and excitement when Anya is talking to Sean when asking for a ride, and when he agrees, there is a really great sense of happiness and excitement on Anya’s face. And when this turns into caution and nervousness when getting ready, and eventually having the party turn out to be a reveal of all sorts of tension and disappointment, the book just goes to show how relatable the character is through her actions, and how well fleshed out these characters are in general. There are many dimensions that come with each interaction, and the interactions themselves are really well told.
- There are so many good parts in the book, so much to the point where this section could go on for a while. And while this section does have the spoiler warning, I still don’t want to give away the ending. The final interaction between Anya and Emily is really intense and well done, and the very final scene in the book is great way to wrap things up.
Guest reviewer: Nick