by Joanne Levy
First sentence: “Despite the suffocating mid-May heat and the nonbreathable fabric of my lavender polyester dress, it was shaping up to be a very good day.”
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Lilah bloom is an ordinary 12-year-old with ordinary problems: she’s got friend drama, she likes a boy but is afraid to tell him, her mother just got remarried and her dad’s a wee bit depressed… nothing out of the ordinary. Then she gets struck by lightning, survives, and… now can hear dead people.
Most particularly her very awesome (and Jewish) grandmother, Bubby Dora. Who is visiting primarily because she wants her son to get remarried, and Lilah’s help in achieving this goal. (Can you say awkward?) But, it’s not just Bubby Dora she hears: she becomes a bit of a clairvoyant, helping various people — from her band instructor to the mean girl in class — achieve a, well, happier state.
The best thing about this one? No magical, mystical adventures. No saving someone from a Dire Fate. No weird worlds with characters that have unpronounceable names. This one was a fun, fluffy middle grade novel where the main character just happens to hear ghosts — and to a good end, too. In short, in the midst of all the complicated high fantasy I’ve been reading lately for the Cybils (not that I mind), a nice, light one like this was a breath of fresh air.
(Just for the record: because this is a Cybils nominee, I’ve been asked to make sure y’all know this is my opinion only, and not that of the panel.)