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review: “nothing but ghosts” September 22, 2009

Posted by Katie in reviews.


Nothing But Ghosts by Beth Kephart.
HarperTeen // Hardcover // 288 pages.
Reviewed from library copy.

Katie’s mother passed away, leaving Katie and her father struggling to move on. Trying her hardest, Katie takes a summer job helping to restore the elusive Miss Martine’s gardens. Dirt, sweat, gardening — what more could a girl ask for? How about a town mystery, a budding love interest, a glamorous librarian, and piles of research? Katie works to unravel the town’s mystery and perhaps her own grief as well.

I could sit here and type out all the reasons you should read this book. The language, the clues peppered through the book, the artistry involved in crafting a book about regret, about grief. But most importantly, the reasons are Katie’s feelings, her emotions, the glimpses of her mother, her eccentric artist father, the tinted glass bottles that Katie’s mother lined up against her window so that the colors in her room were always changing.

The mystery is slow, steady, and readers may figure it out long before Katie does. But the goal isn’t the ending, it isn’t the mystery being solved and the case being closed. The goal, the point of the book (in this reader’s humble opinion) is Katie’s journey, her arrival back into the world.

It is rare that I close a book and truly believe that the book was a gift to read. This is one of those books for me.

It’s already sitting in my library. It’s going to be a harder sell with that fabulous adult-approved “By National Book Award Nominee Author” label sitting on it. (My teens hate award labels. I think they feel like adults are telling them to read it because “it’s good.”) But it’s a sell that I’m willing to make and to pitch. Already, some of my older girls have found the book — the fans of Sarah Dessen and now, of Beth Kephart.

SWAN catalog
Beth Kephart Books




1. Jenny - September 22, 2009

Great review! I have this, but haven’t read it yet. I must admit, I think I’ll have to put it higher on my to read list!

2. Jen - Devourer of Books - September 22, 2009

Beautiful review of what is a beautiful book!

3. Belle - September 22, 2009

What a lovely review! This one sounds like a wonderful book. I haven’t read it yet, but it’s on my list.

4. historyofshe - September 22, 2009

You’ve convinced me!

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