A big thank you to my wonderful English department colleague, who when I said I needed to read a non-superhero-related graphic novel, took me to his office and pulled a bunch of books off the shelf and loaned them to me. Anya’s Ghost was the first one I read, and I devoured it in one sitting.
Anya is a typical teenager, broody, slightly exasperated by her mom and brother, and trying to distance herself from Dima, a nerdy and much more recent immigrant from Russia. During a morning that begins with a fight with her friend and a reminder that her big crush is definitely not hers, Anya falls down a hole and discovers a ghost. This ghost is a young girl who died over a hundred years before. Anya is rescued from the hole, but she soon learns that the ghost, who decides to call herself Emily, has come out with her.
At first Anya doesn’t mind having a ghost friend, especially one that can help her cheat on tests and seems intent on helping Anya get noticed by her crush, Sean. However, as time goes on, Emily seems just a little too interested in getting Sean and Anya together and Anya wonders if having a “forever” friend is really such a good idea.
I suspect that one of the reasons I enjoyed this so much is because, like most good episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the supernatural thing can also work as a stand in for things in the regular world. Anya’s struggles with a toxic friend, ghostly or not, is something we all can relate to.