Parents' Guide to


By Joly Herman, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Stoner mom's antics cloud otherwise fun, ghostly mystery.

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A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

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ASPEN is an attention-grabber. Its conversational, witty tone will be sure to charm teen readers. The drug use is perhaps realistic to some but will be over-the-top to many who don't live in a college town in a state where marijuana is legal. Aspen's mom's sexcapades and stoner flubs are interesting in terms of choices a character makes, but the fact that Aspen is the caregiver who shrugs when her mom goes out to Whole Foods to cruise "organic meat" is a little unbelievable. Still, the teen romance is fun, the mysterious subplot is effective, and Aspen herself is lovable.

However, the book is overwritten at times as well as a bit too reliant on stoner idioms, cartooning some serious issues such as neglect, teen parenting, drug addiction, teen drinking, and suicide. The dark side could have been a tad darker, the light side a bit more subtle, and the serious problems taken more seriously. Other than that, this is a fun summer read for those who aren't bothered by any of this.

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