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This book was yet another pleasant surprise—I’m kind of on a roll picking up books I haven’t heard much about and enjoying them! I saw Kate Ellison speak on the same panel at Books of Wonder that featured my friend Lauren Morrill and Starstruck author Rachel Shukert (more on that book here). I was intrigued by Ellison’s description of her book Notes From Ghost Townintrigued enough to buy it that day! And I wasn’t disappointed. 

Notes From Ghost Town is the story of 16-year-old artist Olivia, whose world is shattered when her best friend (and fledgling crush) Lucas Stern is killed—and her mom is accused of his murder. Her mom is schizophrenic, and was found by Stern’s body covered in his blood. Ten months later, Olivia is barely holding it together as her mom’s trial grows nearer and her father is getting ready to marry his new girlfriend. Then she starts seeing Stern’s ghost. The kicker: he tells her her mom is innocent.

ghost town

This book is part classic mystery, with Olivia unraveling what really happened to her best friend and who was really responsible. It’s part love story, both Olivia’s with Stern, which was cut tragically short, and Olivia’s with Austin, a boy she’s only starting to get to know, but who makes her feel alive and hopeful again for the first time in months. The book is also a fascinating story about mental health. The day she kissed Stern for the first time—the last time she saw him alive—Olivia went colorblind. She’s seen eye doctors who say nothing is physically wrong with her eyes. When she starts seeing Stern’s ghost, she becomes convinced that that, combined with her colorblindness, means she’s developing schizophrenia. After all, it’s genetic, and her mom was a teen when her symptoms showed up. Throughout the book, Olivia battles with the idea of being “crazy,” even as she acts in increasingly irrational (at least from the outside perspective) ways. I was fascinated by the idea of a grieving character with mental illness in her immediate family suddenly seeing a ghost, and I wasn’t let down by how the story played out. (And I won’t spoil anything further for you!)

Another thumbs-up recommendation from me! I hope my good luck with books keeps up. Anyone else reading awesome things right now? 🙂

~Kathryn

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