Genre: Young adult literature, speculative fiction
Medium: Paperback, ARC
Synopsis: The Windhams are an obscure family. They curate the cemetery plots, they’re homeschooled, and the ghost of their little sister haunts the area. Except, it’s taboo for gravekeepers to believe in ghosts. And the ghost isn’t actually their little sister. While the Windham sisters are going through life trying to make friends and understand what it means to be an adolescent, the ghost is perpetually trapped in adolescence, and has been getting rather lonely over the course of the past few hundred years. So what will happen when the ghost wants one of the Windham sisters to cross to the other side permanently?
Review: Starting off, I knew that this was going to be a fun little read (I love anything that’s death-related), but I didn’t expect to get so into it. I mean, honestly, how dare a book about death get me upset…about death?? Uncalled for. (Translation: Totally called for).
Also, I gotta say upfront that I am super biased because a) I love speculative fiction, b) I love it when the setting/world is just left of plum to our world with no explanation, and c) I love loose endings.
In addition to death (which is seen as more natural than it is in our world–grieving still exists, but you also literally get to prep for your death in a way that’s entirely different than in the Real World), this book also touches on running away from home, being homeschooled, no longer wanting to be homeschooled, fitting in, bullies, and sister relationships. This book was a lot more than I had originally bargained for.
During this book, there are three separate plots going on: 1) Athena, who is trying to fit in at school, and begins to make friends with who might be the wrong crowd, 2) Laurel, who no longer wants to be homeschooled, but meets a boy who has just run away and is now living on her family’s property, and 3) the ghost who just wants a permanent, death-long friend. All of these plots intermingle and intertwine in such a natural way that you don’t even realize that it’s the author’s doing, and not just this family’s lives ebbing and flowing in the way it does in real life.
The characters in this novel felt real–it felt like they could have been any number of students in my high school or middle school. I understood the want to have friends, the longing to do what the other members of your family are doing, the loss of a family member that still rings true so long after their deaths. In a way, these characters could have been me, and they could have been you,, too. That’s how real they felt to me.
Overall, this book was fun and light-hearted for such a heavy topic, and I honestly can’t wait to see where Byrne’s mind goes next.