The Sunday Salon: Two Girl Comic Heroes

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 Happy almost Sunday!  I've been doing a lot of reading for book tours lately, but over the past week, I needed to take a little break.  So, I read John Green's new book A Fault in Our Stars (review to come) and I spent a morning with a couple of graphic novels that I've had out from the library for way too long.

Those two graphic novels are Barry Deutsch's Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword and Vera Brosgol's Anya's Ghost, and it turns out that they have a whole lot in common.  Both are young adult graphic novels.  They are coming of age stories about young girls, both from immigrant communities.  And what I love about both is that they show young girls as everyday heroes.

Mirka (pictured above) lives in an Orthodox Jewish community that is entirely insular.  One day, while she is walking with her siblings, they stumble upon a pig, an animal that they have never seen because they are forbidden in Hereville.  This starts Mirka on a journey that is basically a typical fairytale: there are tasks to be conquered and a witch and a sword.  However, there are also the traditions that Mirka has inherited from her grandmother, and which she resents, that end up playing an important part in her journey.

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And then there is Anya.  Anya is a Russian immigrant, trying desperately to fit at her public school, and to leave all aspects of her past behind, along with the accent that she left in ESL class:  her mother's cooking, the Orthodox church, and Dima, the only other Russian at her school, who she would rather die than befriend. 

Then one day, Anya falls in an old well where she gets stuck over night and  discovers "her" ghost, who (as a ploy to get out of the darn well)  is willing to help Anya achieve what she really wants: more than one friend, better grades, and -her greatest desire of all-- the attention of the handsome basketball player in her class, Sean.  However, as she finds herself getting what she wants, she learns that maybe popularity isn't all its cracked up to be, and maybe her ghost isn't the friend she thought she was.

I personally liked Brosgol's book better.  I love black and white line art, and I loved Anya, whose flaws seemed oh so real for me (having once been a teenage girl).  Hereville was a little too fairy tale for me, although I'm sure that wouldn't be true for all readers.  I think that both of these books are great reads for young girls.  There are female heroes out there (Katniss in Hunger Games comes immediately to mind); however, these girls aren't shooting arrows and living in a dystopia.  For them, their trolls and ghosts are only vehicles, to represent the real monsters that face teenage girls, and the struggle to love themselves, and to be who they are.  And while those might be cliches, there is nothing tired about either of these lovely books.

***Don't get me wrong, by the way, I love The Hunger Games

Title: Anya's Ghost
Author: Vera Brosgol
Publisher: First Second
Date: 2011
Genre: Fiction, Graphic Novel, Young Adult

221 pages.
Where I got it: The Library

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Title: Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword
Author: Barry Deutsch
Publisher: Amulet Books
Date: 2010
Genre: Fiction, Young Adult, Graphic Novel

139 pages.
Where I got it: Library

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Shop Indie Bookstores


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