A Curious Tale of the In-between
By Lauren DeStefano
Age Range: 8 – 12 years
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens (September 1, 2015)
I received this book for free in return for an honest review from Bloomsbury via Netgalley. This is a good spooky, somewhat fanciful tale about a young girl who can talk to ghosts. Pram, our hero, is a young girl who came into the world in a most tragic way. She is raised by two aunts who run a nursing home at some time in the early turn of the century. She gets along fine playing games with the elderly residents and her ghostly friend by the lake. When social services decide Pram shouldn’t be homeschooled anymore she is forced to go to school and interact with children her own age. She befriends another lonely boy named Clarence. Together they take on a mysterious fortune teller in an effort to find the parents they both lost. And in the end discover their true worth.
There is a lot that is good about this story, and I did love the atmosphere of the tale. And the characters are marvelous. Interactions between Pram and the residents of the nursing home are charming. I believe that a lot of our kids who love ghost stories will enjoy this book. There are some very adult themes throughout and the story can be slow. About three-quarters of the way through I felt the story lost its way before collecting itself again towards the end, which is why I did not rate this book higher. But overall, a good story, and a fun read.
Parental Note which has some mild spoilers:
Pram’ mother commits suicide while she is pregnant with Pram, and that is how the story begins. It is a rough beginning for a junior fiction story, and depression and its effects run through this whole book. It is not a very cheerful or happy tale and I would not offer this to anyone who has lost a family member to suicide, or deals with severe depression. There are better books out there that discuss depression and suicide. And it is a rather grim tale, despite the “everything works out in the end” resolution. I am ok with tragedy, I am even ok with suicide in a children’ novel, but for a fantasy novel aimed at 3rd to 7th graders, I am worried that it starts with that and does not resolve the elephant in the room until the very end. There is a lot of death and end of life talk as well. So be aware of that.