Friends with Boys

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
Friends with Boys Book Poster Image
Charming tale of high school jitters, with a ghostly twist.

Parents say

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Kids say

age 11+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

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 & Representations

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.

Violence

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.

Sex
Language

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

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

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

What 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.

User Reviews

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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'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.

Talk to your kids 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

Themes & Topics

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For kids who love high school stories

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