Clowes, D. (1993). Seattle, WA; Fantagraphics Books. Print.
Ghost World is the story of Enid and Becky, two recent high school graduates who have been friends forever and spend their time bumming around town, drinking coffee and harassing their mutual friend Josh, who they might both have a crush on. The girls soon find that growing up sometimes means growing apart, as the friendship that once seemed so solid and permanent begins to crumble.
Enid and Becky are two super smart and witty girls who like to do the kinds of things that bored teenagers waiting for something to happen do: they try on wigs, drink endless cups of coffee at their local cafe, people watch, look for awesome stuff at garage sales and harass the nice clerk at the convenience store, Josh. They’ve been friends forever and intend on keeping it that way, they’re going to get a place together when Enid goes to college.
The girls are growing apart though, and it’s a painful transition. Both of the friends are attracted to Josh, and there is some disagreement over who should “get” him. Enid is really confused about her sexuality, and doesn’t even really know if she wants to be with Josh or if she just wants him because Becky wants him. Or if maybe, actually, if she wants Becky.
In a coming of age story that ends painfully and realistically, Ghost World is a must read for anyone who loves comics, has ever been a teenage girl, or suffered a particularly painful loss of friendship.
This is another one of those books that I read for the first time when I was a young adult and am rereading for the project. It was SO PAINFUL. I felt like all I did was cringe through the whole novel and then I felt old. I guess I need to read more things for YAs in their late teens and early twenties because I have seldom felt as uncomfortable reading a book as I did reading Ghost World. I think part of it was that I strongly identified with Enid when I was a young woman (was there a smart, cute, kinda punky, nerd girl who didn’t identify with Enid in the 90s?), so rereading Ghost World was a serious walk down memory lane. Here’s the thing about Clowes, he managed to perfectly capture, at least in my case, what it is like to 18 or 20 or whatever, and have only a vague idea of what the future holds. He totally gets it. Enid knows just enough about herself to know that she’s not going to stick around in her boring ass town forever, but doesn’t quite trust herself enough yet be direct in her approach with her friend Becky or her would be lover Josh. She’s everywhere at once and wants everything and nothing and none of it makes any sense. Clowes captures that feeling perfectly and I think anyone who has ever been there will totally be able to relate to that. So long as they can get around all the swearing.
Daniel Clowes was born in Chicago in 1961. He got a BFA from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn in 1984 and published his first work just a year later in Cracked magazine. He’s probably most well known for the comic Eightball which he wrote in 1988 and where the majority of his later characters first appeared. Eightball ran until 2004 and won many Eisner, Harvey, and Ignatz awards. His well known titles also include Wilson and Mister Wonderful. Most recently his work has been presented at the Oakland Museum of California.
comic, coming of age, strong female lead
Do you think Enid and Becky hate everything? Why or why not?
Reading Level/Interest Age
There are a lot of swears in this book, it is undeniable. There’s also bunch of sexy talk and this comic is definitely intended for older young adults. Alternate graphic novels that would appeal to young YA readers are Y the Last Man, The Pride of Baghdad, and Persepolis.
Reason for Inclusion
This a contemporary coming of age story. It will appeal to readers who prefer comics and also those who just like good stories.