Reviewed by: Elizabeth Anderson, Communications Assistant
Suggested Age: Tweens, Teens
What is the book about?: When Annie starts attending a new school, one of her classmates, an outcast named Elsie, claims her as her very best friend. Elsie is unusual, dishonest, and unpleasant. Annie is quick to extract herself from the relationship in order to fit in with the other girls in the class. When Elsie dies of the flu, her vengeful spirit possesses Annie, forces her to do her bidding, and does her best to claim Annie as her friend for always.
My Review: This story contains elements of Hahn’s flare for historical fiction as well as ghost stories. Set at the end of World War I, the book contains well integrated facts and details about the time period and the influenza epidemic. Hahn’s novels typically craft characters that are imperfect, but lovable. This novel was no exception when it came to the flawed aspects of the characters, but it struck me as one of her more extreme works in terms of the mean spiritedness and sometimes downright hateful and disrespectful behavior of the core group of characters. While I typically wince at a character’s mistake and continue to root for them, I found myself a bit detached from the characters in this book because none of them had many endearing qualities, nor did the events of the story seem to cultivate positive traits in a genuine way. This novel exchanges characterization for a fairly solid and eventful plot, however, so if a reader is more interested in the story itself than the characters, this book will not disappoint. While it is not a “scary” ghost story, it is a troubling narrative in terms of the cruelty and malice of the characters, as well as the frustrating and upsetting ramifications of Annie’s possession by Elsie’s ghost.
Three Words That Describe This Book: Hatefulness, insanity, illness
Give This a Try if You Like… The Ghost of Crutchfield Hall and Wait Till Helen Comes by Mary Downing Hahn, and The Ghost of Ernie P. by Betty Ren Wright
About FDL Reads
Welcome to FDL Reads, weekly book reviews from Fondulac District Library. Librarians (and possibly some other guest reviewers) review all types of books, from children’s picture books, young adult favorites, to the latest adult thriller, and share their thoughts each week at fondulaclibrary.org. If the book is owned by Fondulac District Library (or another local library), you’ll see a direct link to the catalog entry and whether or not it is available. If it is checked out or at another local library, you will be able to place a hold as long as you have your library card and PIN numbers. As with any book review, these are our opinions…we disagree amongst ourselves about books frequently. We all have different likes and dislikes, which is what makes the world an interesting place. Please enjoy, and keep on reading!