Nothing but Ghosts by Beth Kephart
published July, 2009
Synopsis from publisher:
Ever since her mother passed away, Katie's been alone in her too-big house with her genius dad, who restores old paintings for a living. Katie takes a summer job at a garden estate, where, with the help of two brothers and a glamorous librarian, she soon becomes embroiled in decoding a mystery. There are secrets and shadows at the heart of Nothing but Ghosts: symbols hidden in a time-darkened painting, and surprises behind a locked bedroom door. But most of all, this is a love story—the story of a girl who learns about love while also learning to live with her own ghosts.
This is a truly lovely book. It's a simple story, beautifully told, with no frills or flashes (or vampires!) to distract from the heart of the story. I enjoyed Kephart's writing style, although there were times it seemed a bit too much for a young girl. The author uses imagery to great effect, and many times I found her descriptions of person or place to be quite beautiful.
"Now that it's that sweet time of day and the sun feels good on my skin, I don't mind just sitting here on these library steps watching the traffic go by, don't mind the fact that I'll be late to Miss Martine's and the dig, that I'll likely catch Old Olson's flack. I don't mind watching the clouds break and drift, and sometimes it looks like there are signals up high, and sometimes the sky is through-and-through blue, and it's really pretty out here in the morning, by myself, alone. Beauty and sadness. Rescue and escape. There's that line, I think, between what is and what has not happened yet." (pp. 171-172)
I found Katie to be a delightful, smart and resourceful heroine. I loved the relationship she had with her dad, and with Ms. McDermott. All the characters felt like they could be old friends, or neighbors down the road - people you felt like you've known for a while, and can really root for. The mystery was a bit predictable, but unfolded in such a way that my interest was still peaked, even though I had a fairly good idea of how it was going to end.
I would not hesitate to recommend this to someone looking for a good YA novel to give to a child or acquaintance. I remember when My Friend Amy was trying to recruit people to read this novel - now that I've read Nothing But Ghosts, I completely understand why. I enjoyed every minute I spent with it.
Source: my shelves
Recommended by: Amy at My Friend Amy
MPAA rating: PG for it's honest discussion of death and loss
My rating: 8/10