by Lauren DeStefano
First sentence: “Pram died just before she was born.”
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Review copy provided by the publisher.
Content: There’s some slight romance and a few scary moments. It’s in the middle grade (grades 3-5) section of the bookstore, but I’d give it to the older end of that range.
Pram sees ghosts. She has ever since she was a little girl, the theory (of the narrator, anyway) is that it’s because her mother committed suicide when she was 9 months pregnant and the doctors had to revive Pram. But, thankfully, all that’s taken care of in the first chapter of the book, and it’s pretty vague so that it would probably go over most kids heads.
Pram’s best friend is a ghost, Felix. They do everything together because Pram’s aunts have decided that she needs protecting from the world and homeschool her. But then, the State decides that Pram needs to go to school, and so off she goes. Where she meets Clarence, whose mother has just died. (So many dead mothers.) He convinces Pram (much to Felix’s distress) to go searching for a spiritualist in order to contact his mother. It turns out, however, that this spiritualist is not a nice person. Like INCREDIBLY not nice. And so Pram has to figure out how to get out of the clutches of a greedy, evil woman.
This is a weird book. On the one hand, I liked the ghost angle, how Pram could see ghosts and communicate with them and see their memories. Even the creepy weird spiritualist was intriguing and I thought that DeStefano played around with memories and the afterlife was quite original. But the whole relationship with Clarence was a little… odd. It wasn’t quite a romance, but it wasn’t quite just friendship either. I suppose some kids will like it, but I thought it was a bit out of place in a ghost story.
But, aside from that, it was a good book. Not a great one, but a good story.
(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.)