Hicks, Faith Erin. Friends with Boys.

NY: First Second, 2012.

After being homeschooled all her life, Maggie is dealing pretty well with her first day at the public high school. She’s found her classes, and the Grade 9 bathrooms, but she hasn’t yet found “her people.” Even her three older brothers aren’t much help. Her dad is busy being the new small-town police chief. And the ghost from the nearby cemetery is just annoying.

But before long, she meets Lucy, a slightly strange girl her age, and Lucy’s older brother, Alistair, who is cool and wears a Mohawk. But Alistair has an iffy relationship with the volleyball team (“the pack”) of which he used to be a member, and Maggie’s oldest brother, Daniel, has some kind of history with Alistair, too, so Maggie is cautiously finding her way among the tangled relationships.

Hicks does an excellent job portraying her characters, who have the feel of real people, as well as showing the dynamics of Maggie’s family, who are a very likeable bunch. There’s even an actual plot, a coming-of-age story, with a beginning, middle, and end — not something you can take for granted in a graphic novel. Moreover, the artwork is first-rate in a classic style and suits the subject matter perfectly.

Hicks is a Nova Scotian graphic artist who is entirely new to me, but given the quality of what is apparently her third book, I’ll definitely be hunting up her first two.

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