The story is about a young girl named Anya who moved to the U.S. from Russia when she was just old enough to have issues about her accent and different cultural ways. She has managed to shake the accent and get the right clothes, although she feels insecure about her weight and looks, particularly when she compares herself to svelte blonde Elizabeth, who happens to be dating the boy Anya thinks is the hottest guy at school.
The opening sequences of the graphic novel depict a fairly rotten day for Anya, but all of that pales in comparison to the accident that befalls her after school. She runs off through the woods, not paying any attention to where she is going because she is feeling overwhelmed and thoroughly sorry for herself, and she slips and falls down a well.
She survives the fall, but now she is stuck. She is in a secluded location, and no one is around to hear her cries for help. To make things even more horrific, she discovers a skeleton at the bottom of the well, lying not far from where she has fallen. A ghost appears. It is the spirit of a girl just about Anya's age, who fell down the well many years earlier. It is clearly not a comforting sight.
When Anya manages to get out of the well, she is followed home by the ghost, who tells Anya that she has been murdered. But when Anya tries to find out more so she can help lay the girl's spirit to rest, the ghost seems more interested in Anya's social life rather than in finding a way to move on. The ghost seems to mean well, but as time goes by Anya feels a sneaking suspicion that all is not as it seems.
I truly enjoyed this graphic novel, and I would recommend it to all those who enjoy a good ghost story, as well as to fans of Hope Larson and Raina Telgemeier. It's a fun combination of horror, humor, school story and coming-of-age, and it's told in a subtle, clever way that will get readers really thinking about the story and the relationships among the characters.
This is my first read for the R.I.P. Challenge. I'm off to a great start!
Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol (First Second, 2011)
Also reviewed at:
The Blue Bookcase: "Something I love about this book is the character design. Having read a lot of comics all my life, I've ached for more variety in characters and their looks."
Finding Wonderland: "It struck just the right balance between funny, poignant and creepy—an odd combination, perhaps, but it worked for me."
Stainless Steel Droppings: "author/artist Vera Brosgol combines clean lines and subtle retro-styling with tight prose to tell a compelling and sometimes mysterious tale about a young girl’s journey towards becoming herself."