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Friends with Boys



Charming tale of high school jitters, with a ghostly twist.

What parents need to know

Educational value

Friends with Boys presents a reasonably realistic portrait of a small-town high school, with all its rivalries, cliques, and outsiders.

Positive messages

Over the course of her confusing freshman year, Maggie learns to accept her family and new friends for who they really are, rather than holding onto her old perceptions of them.

Positive role models

Sad and confused by her mother's departure, Maggie enters her freshman year of high school feeling especially vulnerable. As she makes new friends and tries to fit in, she develops a new perspective on what it means to be comfortable with your own choices.


Two high school boys have a fistfight that lasts one page and results in a black eye and a split lip. Maggie's brother performs in a school play involving zombies, but the mayhem is played for laughs.

Not applicable

A few uses of words like "bitch," "sucks," "ass" and "a--hole," said mainly by older high school boys.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

One scene in which one of Maggie's friends drinks beer, becomes midly intoxicated, and is called a "lightweight."

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Friends with Boys is an open-hearted graphic novel about a Canadian girl manuevering through her first year of public high school after being homeschooled with her brothers. There's a little bit of violence and swearing (including "bitch," "ass," etc.), but overall it's an affecting tale of an outsider learning to fit in. One subplot centers on a ghost that only the main character can see.

Parents say

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What's the story?

After years of being homeschooled, Maggie starts attending the local public high school where her three older brothers are enrolled. As she struggles to fit in, she makes new friends, deals with her sadness about her mother having abandoned their family, and learns to see her brothers from a different perspective. She's also haunted by the ghost of a ship captain's widow.

Is it any good?


FRIENDS WITH BOYS is a charming, open-hearted graphic novel about learning to deal with family and friends while developing your own personality. In both her expressive art and her well-tuned script, Canadian author-illustrator Faith Erin Hicks does an excellent job of capturing the fear and joy of freshman year. The plot's supernatural element isn't seamlessly integrated with the more realistic material, but it doesn't derail the narrative, either.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the advantages and disadvantages of being homeschooled. Why might formerly homeschooled students have trouble making the adjustment to a public high school?

  • Why do you think the author included an element of fantasy -- a subplot about a ghost that presumably only Maggie can see -- in an otherwise realistic portrait of Maggie's high school experience? 

  • What sets Maggie's new friends -- all outsiders at the high school -- apart from their classmates? How important is fitting in at school?

Book details

Author:Faith Erin Hicks
Topics:Brothers and sisters, Misfits and underdogs
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:First Second
Publication date:February 28, 2012
Number of pages:224

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Kid, 12 years old May 27, 2014
As a 12 year old girl, I enjoyed this book. It has no sex or drinking. Younger tweens can really relate. That is just my opinion.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models


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