Raina's Reviews > Friends With Boys

Friends With Boys by Faith Erin Hicks
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's review
Aug 03, 2012

liked it
bookshelves: graphicnovel, not-amerika, ya, homeschooling
Read from May 22 to 23, 2012

Wow, this is hardly at all like I expected.

The title is a bit misleading. With a widely-used phrase like "Friends with Boys," I expected a story focusing on that element of life, with some discussion of gender dynamics.

But this is really not that at all. Granted, Maggie only has one friend who's a girl, but the story doesn't spend any time dwelling on the complexities of gendered life.

Between that and the mockup covers in the extra content in the back (which mostly feature the title "The Education of Maggie McKay"), I suspect that the title was a quick change by the publisher. Boo on that.

When I got over my expectations, though, I mostly enjoyed this.

There's a little bit of Mean Girls (without the girls), a little bit of ghost adventure, quite a bit of family drama. I found myself wondering why Maggie found herself hanging out with the alternative crowd. She herself didn't seem like much of an alternative personality and I never quite got why the people who befriended her did.

And then there's the homeschool thing.

I was homeschooled, and my family followed the unschooling method. Most of my "schooling" happened out in the community. I spent a lot of time in clubs on various topics (shakespeare, creative writing, crafting...), scouting, sports, religious activities, and music lessons.
So this idea of Maggie spending her entire childhood up to high school in her house with her mom feels a little off to me. I believe that there are people who homeschool that way, and maybe it's a trait of relatively small towns (like the ones in Nova Scotia?). But in my experience it's only the super-religious types who believe that homeschooling should happen exclusively cloistered in the home. So that was a little odd. Especially for a family that seems relatively hip and progressive otherwise.

But besides that sideswipe at something close to my heart, this is a fun, lightish comic book. I enjoyed the Alien cameo and found the characters likeable and believable. I would love to befriend the boys in this novel. And maybe that's the point.
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05/16 marked as: read

Comments <span class="smallText"> (showing 1-12 of 12) </span> <span class="smallText">(12 new)</span>

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lucy by the sea thanks for the really good review. can you recommend any fiction or memoir books that portray unschooling or homeschooling well?

Raina Yikes that's a tough one. Mostly because every family does it differently. Schooled by Korman isn't bad, but that's more because the scenario for his isolation is more believable than the one in Friends with Boys. But honestly, I'm kinda striking out. I'll think on it and get back to you. I guess I should start a homeschool bookshelf. Mean Girls comes to mind, but that's not a book. :)

lucy by the sea thanks :)

message 4: by Dylan (new)

Dylan You act like people with "alternative personalities" can't befriend people who don't have an "alternative personality". And they didn't really have "alternative personalities" they just dressed differently.

message 5: by Dylan (new)

Dylan I do agree that the title makes no sense to me whatsoever though.

Raina Nah, that's not what I meant. I just never got the attraction in the first place. What do you think drew the siblings to Maggie (and vice versa)?

Cole i think at least what drew lucy to maggie was that lucy recognized she was new. maggie was sitting alone and not really interacting with anyone in particular, and, as we know, lucy had a hard time with her first year at high school and making connections.

Raina Huh. Do you think Lucy is the kind of character who would have approached every new person who appeared at the school, Cole? I didn't read it that way, but maybe that was the vibe Hicks was going for...

message 9: by Anne Marie (new)

Anne Marie G IIRC, the portrayal of homeschooling in the book is based on the author's own experiences. I seem to remember her writing about it on the book's website when it was being serialised online. Not sure if it's still there, but it might be worth a look if you're interested.

Raina Cool, thanks for the tip, Anne Marie!

Julie I agree that there's a shortage of books about homeschoolers, but I didn't like Schooled at all. It showed one type of of homeschooled student--the feared "unsocialized one" --and didn't acknowledge that other types of homeschoolers exist.

Raina I totally hear you, Julie, and I agree that Schooled doesn't portray MY homeschool experience. But at least there's a good reason the character in that book is as isolated as he is. And as much as it is a stereotype, there really were quite a few unsocialized homeschoolers when I was growing up. Maybe that's changing as homeschooling's becoming more normal?

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