“Maggie McKay has three older brothers in high school and, after years of homeschooling, she’s about to join them. Without her mother around and her brothers busy in their own pursuits, Maggie tentatively adjusts to public high school life and finds new friends in punked-out Lucy and her brother, Alistair. Now, if only her mother would come back and the ghost would leave, things really might be looking up. Ghost? Yeah, about that—Maggie is being haunted by the ghost of a sea captain’s widow and with Lucy’s help, will try laying this ghost to rest.
Friends With Boys is not really a ghost story. This is a book about relationships: how important they are, what they mean to us, how we depend on them, and how we feel when those bonds are broken. Maggie’s relationship with her brothers and their interactions with each other is easily the best part of this graphic novel. Faith Erin Hicks’ artwork is clear and expressive and the black and white illustrations give the story more weight and focus. As a sister to three brothers, she has evidently been listening around the dining room table, because she captures family moments that are unique, yet feel so familiar.
What’s up with the ghost? Good question. Though I enjoyed and recommend Friends with Boys, I do have a quibble with some hanging plotlines at the end—the ghost being one of them. I was hoping this might be the first of a series and these unresolved issues would be addressed later, and best of all, we’d get to read more about the McKay family. Or, since it started as a webcomic, maybe Friends with Boys would continue online. Not likely, but I did find this very silly alternate ending (http://www.friendswithboys.com/2012/02/1362/) on the website. There is definitely a lot to enjoy in this graphic novel, so read it for the humor and the sincerity and even in acknowledgment of the mean and hurtful ways we behave. Then, tell me what you think of the ghost.