From that time on, the world was hers for the reading....

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Tonya Hurley: Ghostgirl

After winning a copy of the sequel from Book Divas, I decided to read Ghostgirl by Tonya Hurley. And I really liked it!


Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
And if I should die before I awake,
I pray the popular attend my wake.

Charlotte Usher feels practically invisible at school, and then one day she really is invisible. Even worse: she's dead. And all because she choked on a gummy bear. But being dead doesn't stop Charlotte from wanting to be popular; it just makes her more creative about achieving her goal.

If you thought high school was a matter of life or death, wait till you see just how true that is. In this satirical, yet heartfelt novel, Hurley explores the invisibility we all feel at some times and the lengths we'll go to be seen.

Don't judge a book by its cover. I've always been told that. And, in most cases, you shouldn't.

When I picked up Ghostgirl at the library, I was greeted by a black cover adorned with a plastic coffin-shaped cutout that read "Rest In Popularity." Intriguing.

Even better? The pages inside weren't only filled with super-cute artwork, but also a great story.

Each chapter began with quotes (Oscar Wilde, Edgar Allan Poe) and song lyrics (Evanescence, The Smiths), which was enjoyable and gave a better understanding to what the characters were feeling and going through during the story.

Relating to the characters was easy. I was Charlotte. High school was a lonely time, where I felt invisible and wanted more than anything to fit in. I still feel that way sometimes.

Unlike Charlotte, I didn't have to die in the middle of my transformation to fit in to realize there's more to life-- or, in her case, the afterlife-- than being popular. Real friendship and helping others is more gratifying.

Watching Charlotte struggle to find her place in the afterlife is what made this book interesting to me. You can't take popularity with you; you can only take who you really are (even all your unresolved issues, so you might want to start working on those now).

The cast of afterlife characters was vivid, their nicknames a sign of how they died-- usually a result of some vanity or arrogance. There's Piccolo Pam (who died by swallowing her piccolo while showboating during a parade), Metal Mike (who played his car stereo too loud during his driver's test and crashed) and Call Me Kim (who was obsessed with her cell phone, overusing it, causing death by radiation). That's just a few of the characters Charlotte meets in her Dead Ed class-- yes, there's school and homework in the afterlife!

Being dead didn't stop Charlotte from spending time with the living. My favorite part was Charlotte's interaction with the popular cheerleader's sister Scarlett-- part punk rock, part goth, 100% sarcastic. Their ability to switch places and the shenanigans that ensued were entertaining. I enjoyed watching their unlikely friendship grow as Charlotte grew.

All in all, a great book with very likable characters, a sprinkle of pop culture references and language that taught a lesson without being preachy.

When Piccolo Pam tells Charlotte, "Don't worry. Eventually you'll fit in", I couldn't help but feel comforted. And, at the end of the day-- dead or alive-- isn't that all we need? A little comfort and encouragement go a long way.

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