I’ve always wanted brothers. Not just brothers, but older brothers, which was, obviously, impossible from the minute I was born. I have this romantic idea of what it would be like to have an older brother: someone who’s protective and loyal and loving and funny and sometimes obnoxious. In that way Friends With Boys was a little bit of wish fulfillment for me. I loved seeing Maggie’s relationship with her brothers, even if it was a little bit more complex than what I imagine.
The title of Friends With Boys is a little bit misleading, because it’s more about Maggie and her first year in high school, trying to understand the relationships between her brothers and the other boys at school. Maggie, like her brothers before her, was homeschooled until it was time for her to start high school. Unlike her brothers, though, Maggie is facing high school on her own, because her mother has left. Maggie’s father, the local police chief, has been trying to keep things normal around the house, but it can’t stay that way for long, especially since Maggie has also been seeing a ghost. When she makes new friends at school, Lucy and Alistair, her brother Daniel is surprisingly upset about it. Maggie is just trying to understand the world she lives in, which feels too overwhelming and confusing at times. Why are her twin brothers Zander and Lloyd fighting? Why doesn’t Daniel like Alistair? Why does the captain of the volleyball team seem to hate Alistair, too? Why did Maggie’s mom leave? And why is there a ghost following her around?
I loved everything about Friends With Boys. I loved the drawing style. Each face is so expressive and each panel meaningful and so nicely drawn. I’m in love with the way Hicks draws faces and I couldn’t get enough of the characters. I felt like they were real people and I loved them. They are all different shapes and sizes and just feel human.
Friends With Boys is funny and sad and heartwarming and heartbreaking all at the same time. Plus there’s a ghost, so, you know. I feel like it is really easy to compare Friends With Boys and Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgot. They have similar plots, though I connected more with Friends With Boys. It’s a little bit more light-hearted, especially when it comes to the ghost, and, as I might have mentioned, I loved the characters.
Friends With Boys is just so charming, I think you’ll find yourself smiling along. There are no neat endings with this comic, though. Many of the questions above are never truly answered, but that was okay for me. I can see some readers being frustrated with it, but I was perfectly okay with a small glimpse of Maggie’s life. And, because the world is an awesome place, you can read the first 20 pages of Friends With Boys online, just to see if you’ll fall in love with the characters and artwork as much as I did. Check it out at the Friends With Boys website.