Friday, July 22, 2011

Shadowed Summer by Saundra Mitchell

Ordinarily I don't quote the back cover blurb of books, mostly because they're not very descriptive. This one is great, though, so here it is straight off the back cover:

Summer in Ondine, Louisiana is always predictable: hot and boring.

Not this one. This summer, fourteen-year-old Iris doesn't have to make up spooky stories for excitement. A real one falls right into her lap.

Years ago, a teenager named Elijah disappeared. All that remains of him are whispers. Until a ghost begins to haunt Iris, and she's convinced it's the ghost of Elijah.

What really happened to him? And why, of all people, has he chosen Iris?

Okay, it's not great--but good and descriptive. It leaves out Iris's bossy best friend Collette, who's as important to the story as Elijah is. It's Collette who bullies mild-mannered Iris into pretending they're contacting spirits in the cemetery; it's Collette who's angry when the ghost contacts Iris and not her. The relationship between the two girls is well done, particularly where it concerns their friend Ben: Collette is boy-crazy and Iris is not, which causes friction when Ben is around.

The setting in modern small-town Louisiana is both atmospheric and unusual. I liked the way Mitchell's writing captured the speech patterns of the region without becoming hokey or hard to understand. I also liked the way the summer's heat is woven into the ghost story.

The plot itself is good as Iris, Collette, and Ben dig into Elijah's disappearance to discover what really happened to him. There are a lot of surprises that I didn't see coming. Unfortunately, the very end is a bit of a let-down. The action is taken out of Iris's hands and she becomes an onlooker as adults take over and fit in the last missing pieces. I would have liked Iris to come to all the conclusions herself. But the book as a whole was very good, and a nice change from teen ghosts that are drawn as sexy.

B&N link

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