Friends With Boys is more a three and half as something was missing for me. It also feels like a second book should happen but has not. I know the author/illustrator, Faith Erin Hicks, is no stranger to series (I have the Nameless City series on my TBR list) therefore, it might not be unheard of. Yet, at the same time, this is a standalone title. There is an open-ended completion to the story. And because of that, a second read is recommended. I know I missed a lot. Perhaps I was just tired from a long weekend so that made some areas confusing. And I had also just read All’s Faire in Middle School so the home-school thread was a little water down for me, yet different enough to not feel like I was just reading All’s Faire with real ghosts.
The black and white illustrations also caused some bumps. The details are what is needed, yet sometimes the page is crowed. As wall as the fact the panels read almost manga-like, therefore, you must really follow along to see where they are taking you.
This book has a fabulous illustrator and a plot that while seen before has a few fun differences. Maggie is a girl who is starting high school, but she has been home schooled up to this point. She has three older brothers (all former home schooled and now in high school) who fit the “big brother types: the serious and goofy oldest and “the twins” (who are searching for their own identities, without losing their best friend. You know, the “twin thing”). The stories of her brothers are shown how they directly relate to Maggie, yet, they are not just “Maggie’s brothers.” They have their own selves. But no matter whose story is being told (the boys, Maggie or even their dad) the main point of the story (Change) is seen throughout the book.
Perhaps I have read too many graphic novels or too many Ghost Stories. The ghost part felt a tad cliche. At least until the end; where, (SPOILER) things are not wrapped up as nicely as they could have. There are some real moments (Maggie, the police chief’s daughter, is not charged with a crime she committed) and some slightly fantastical (the brothers can see the ghost, too). Ages 12 up will enjoy the typical teen story.