Nothing but Ghosts

nothingbutghostsNothing but Ghosts
Written by:
Beth Kephart
Reading level:
Young Adult
288 pages
HarperTeen (June 23, 2009)

Normally, I give myself a few days after completely a book that I am completely smitten with, to give myself a chance to calm down, take a deep breath and look at it objectively.  I don’t think I’m going to come down from the high that was Nothing but Ghosts any time soon however, so I am going to go ahead and review it now.  Why? Because you need to READ IT.

Why?  For writing like this:

I spot a ladybug on a long blade of grass and give her a ride on my finger, and she takes her time.  She goes up to my knuckle and zigzags back own, as if she has all day long to choose a direction, to live in this green garden with tree stumps, crumbles of seeds, bones-a cat, I’m sure it was a cat, maybe a tabby or a calico that belonged to someone who also, maybe on a bright day when things were blooming and ladybugs were swarming, disappeared.  Vanished.  Things disappear and vanish.  That’s the fact.  Before you’re ready for them to go, they go, and after that all you can do is keep the idea of them bright inside yourself.  I place my finger alongside a blade of grass.  The bright red dot climbs off.

This paragraph is not only beautifully written, it tells a lot about what this novel is about; a young girl’s quest to find what has vanished from her life.

Katie’s mother passed away recently, after a bout with cancer, and ever since, she has felt alone in the huge house she shares with her scatterbrained, yet brilliant dad.  It’s summer now and Katie has taken a job at a nearby estate where a former socialite has lived, hidden away, for more than 50 years.  With the help of two brothers and a gorgeous librarian, Katie soon finds herself deep in the mystery of the reclusive Miss Martine.  Long buried secrets are here, waiting for Katie to find; clues hidden in a mysterious painting, a runaway’s trunk waiting to be unearthed, and “paper soup” waiting to be read at the library.  Surprises wait behind a locked bedroom door.  And at the heart of Nothing but Ghosts is the story of girl whose heart has been broken by the death of her beloved mother and is learning to live with her own ghosts. 

There is pain and heartache at the heart of this story, but also hope and love.  Beth Kephart has a poetic way with her prose.  There is no word out of place.  Every sentence painstakingly paints the picture she lovingly has created.   The first-person narrative is never heavy-handed and genuinely made me feel closer to this heartbroken young girl.   And like Amy said in her review:

what I loved most about this book is the simple truth that we are all a bunch of people who have loved and carry around aching loss in our hearts, and yet there is hope to be found somewhere, often in each other.

This book will leave you aching and smiling and crying and sad that it’s over and wanting to turn back to the first page so you can read it again.  I can’t wait to read more of Beth Kephart’s work.

Author also wrote:

Into the Tangle of Friendship | House of Dance | Undercover | Flow | Ghosts in the Garden | A Slant of Sun

Also Reviewed by:

 There are bunches!

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I received this book from Amazon, a long time ago. I think it even qualifies for the Clearning Off Your Shelves Challenge. Yay!!!

15 thoughts on “Nothing but Ghosts

  1. I'm working myself up to this book (it does sound so full of pain) with another Beth Kephart book. I was really touched by what she said during Chasing Ray's winter blog blast tour, that there's always the possibility with her books that the next one won't get published because she doesn't get the big numbers.

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