Plot Summary: Iris is ready for another hot, routine summer in her small Louisiana town, hanging around the Red Stripe grocery with her best friend, Collette, and traipsing through the cemetery telling each other spooky stories and pretending to cast spells. Except this summer, Iris doesn’t have to make up a story. This summer, one falls right in her lap. Years ago, before Iris was born, a local boy named Elijah Landry disappeared. All that remained of him were whispers and hushed gossip in the church pews. Until this summer. A ghost begins to haunt Iris, and she’s certain it’s the ghost of Elijah. What really happened to him? And why, of all people, has he chosen Iris to come back to?
This was another book that I picked up because I’d heard about it from multiple sources. I’m not really a ghost story fan, but I wanted to know why other people were talking about it. So I picked up a copy at my library.
This is a great story. The main character, Iris, is fourteen, and is on the cusp of growing up. She’s still playing at fairies and seeking out ghosts with her friend, Collette, and has no interest in boys. Iris’s journey toward growing up is gradual, believable, and incredibly strong. The author captures her teenage difficulties without over-the-top angst, put the two friends through growth strains without anyone getting too catty, and emerged with an Iris who’s ready to move to the next level in life. The confusion of growing up is captured really well.
The author happened to convey this through a ghost story, which I’ve already said is not what I gravitate toward. But I really liked this one. It had enough suspense without too much crazy ‘haunting’ stuff flying everywhere. Even the climax felt realistic, like it’s really possible for someone to be haunted in this way.
Also, the setting is amazing. It's palpable, and actually feels like a character in the story. The characters respond to it as well, with believable Southern speech and nuances. It’s clear this author has an incredible grasp of reality, and conveys it well to the reader. I’m definitely going to read more of her work.
My only complaint was I thought a couple things were missing from the ending, such as...
As with all my book discussions, there are SPOILERS below.
I never got a clear picture as to why Elijah couldn’t rest. I see why he chose Iris, because of the connection to her father, and because of what was hidden in her room. But why wasn’t he able to rest? Given how he died, that confused me a bit. I know it’s hinted that he rose because of the ‘spell’ that Collette and Iris did in the graveyard, but it still felt like something was missing. Maybe that was just me, though.
Also, there needed to be just a little more about Iris’s arrest. It’s not that we need to know exactly how it’s resolved, but we do need to know more of her reaction to it. Especially her thoughts about how she’ll handle the possible outcomes.
Still, this was a great book with fantastic characters. Definitely recommended.