Cindy: Last week we linked to Edith Pattou’s fairy tale East in our blog post about Margi Preus’ new book West of the Moon and now this week we have a new book, hot off the press, by Pattou. In Ghosting (Skyscape 2014) she has left the frightening world of fairy tales and set this story in the very realistic world of gun violence. I can’t even check the local news website for a weather forecast without seeing another report of a shooting, so I picked this up with a bit of trepidation. Written in verse from multiple perspectives the book opens with a haunting poem explaining what ghosting used to be (a childhood Halloween prank) and what it is now for these teens (a horrible alcohol-fueled Saturday night dare gone wrong).
You can read more of the plot details in Gail Bush’s linked Booklist review above but you won’t have to booktalk this. The vibrant cover will attract the first teen reader and they will hand sell it to their friends, especially if they are fans of Ellen Hopkins’ verse novels. Besides the acceleration to the “incident” there is a look inside the relationships of these teens. Siblings Emma and Faith, several romantic couples, friendships old and new, and some parent-child relationships. The pages turn quickly and there is an equal number devoted to the healing process as there is to the violence–something that the news feeds don’t give any of us. High school libraries are going to need multiple copies to meet demand.
Lynn: Cindy’s so right on this one. The teens are going to eat this up and will hand it off to each other. There is a large cast of characters but I found I quickly sorted them out. It was easy to keep track of who was speaking especially as each voice has a slightly different verse form which helps. For example, Faith’s entries are one or two word lines that quickly race down the page, almost like a list. Analytic Anil writes in numbered stanzas as if checking off points in an outline. Each narration puts readers inside the heads of the characters – some more intimately than others and there are many evocative images. The escalating train wreck of happenstance that is climax will get teens talking for certain.
Reluctant readers will be an eager audience for this but teens in general will be asking for this one too. Me, I’m an escapist reader when faced with today’s headlines. I’ll be even more eager for Pattou’s next fantasy or fairy tale novel.