Continuing with a supernatural theme, I picked up Shadowed Summer by Saundra Mitchell. I love a good ghost story!
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?
I was hooked from the ghost's first utterance of "Where y'at Iris?" Seriously. I got goosebumps. I was simultaneously creeped out and intrigued. I couldn't stop reading. And I wasn't disappointed with the suspense that followed as smalltown secrets were slowly revealed.
To add another layer to the story, Shadowed Summer also explored the moments and feelings between childhood and growing up. Collette wants to spend more time with boys. Iris just wants her best friend back. But even Iris's bedroom isn't immune to the change. ("Half pink, half blue.... Ballerinas danced in watercolor on one wall; magazine posters of pop stars gazed down from the other.")
What I liked best about the book was the way it was written. Saundra Mitchell's words tickled my senses. The dialect was so well written that I could hear the characters talking. The long, hot summer was described in such a way that I felt the heat. The scents of restaurants, homes, and even dumpsters existing in sweltering heat were described so vividly that I could smell them.
This was an impressive debut novel. I really can't wait to see what Saundra Mithcell comes up with next.