The sad ghost club by Liz Meddings
Subtitled Find Your Kindred Spirits this simple, black and white graphic novel's central character is depicted draped in a ghostly sheet. We only see the feet and hands of the Sad Ghost, alone with a cat, an unfinished essay and anxiety. When Sam, or S.G. as he prefers, is invited to a party he agrees to go and is immediately anxious, worrying about it so much that he panics on a trip to the supermarket and ends up in a lovely quiet spot overlooking the town where a frog hops over for company. In the lead up to the party S.G. talks to the cat about his worries and gains confidence in his decision and sets out bravely but once there he seems to be invisible to other partygoers and is about to leave when he spots another Lonely Ghost, Socks, on the other side of the room. He tries to make conversation with Socks but finds it difficult. When Socks runs from the room S.G. follows and when Socks says "nothing feels real and I just feel so stuck inside my head" S.G. says "I know exactly what you mean." Anxiety and depression are hard to talk about and sometimes meeting someone who understands the everyday struggle can be life changing. Sam decides to reach out to find his fellow Sad Ghosts and this book reaches out beyond the pages to https://thesadghostclub.com where there are links to helplines, a blog and merchandise.
The book’s poor quality off white paper lets the simple, monotone graphics down, maybe enhancing the feeling of depression but not inviting the reader to turn the page and sometimes making tiny text hard to read. The many frames where nothing much is happening make it a bit long which might add to the damped down feeling of its depressed characters but risks losing the reader. There is a list of resources at the end of the book but they are all UK based, it would be nice to see some Australian resources or a link to them for books destined for overseas distribution.
Teens struggling with anxiety, loneliness and depression will find this a gentle and hopeful book while others might gain some insight and reach out to the lonely ghosts in their circle of friends.
Themes: Depression, Lonliness, Anxiety, Friendship.