Ghostgirl

 
(i)

 

Darkly funny book is full of Goth-chic style.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Comeuppance and lessons abound for both live and dead students.

Violence

Charlotte chokes to death on a gummy bear. Mentions of how other teens died, including car wrecks. A chandelier falls on people; they're unharmed. The dead have some gross attributes (maggots, exposed brains, etc.).

Sex

A dead Charlotte watches Damen undress and gets into bed with him; he senses her presence and screams. Some kissing in a girl's bedroom while the parents aren't home. Talk in Dead Ed about periods.

Language

Insults can get pretty salty, especially between Scarlet and her sister. A fake note is read in class implicating two jocks; it says "I love sticking my hands between your thick, hot, sweaty legs when you hike the football at me." Once, "f--k" is spelled out as a cheer. Plus "t-ts," "s--t," "ass," "dickhead," "whore," "blow me."

Consumerism

You could create a really long playlist with all the bands mentioned here (at least 50), whose lyrics are often quoted as well. A big plug for the movie Delicatessen. Celebrities and snack foods are also name-checked.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the main character chokes to death on a gummy bear at the very beginning and proceeds to meet other dead teens. While the mood stays pretty light and darkly humorous (think Beetlejuice), the language can get pretty salty, especially when insults are hurled between sisters. Also, expect plenty of plugs for bands, especially ones that go with the Goth-chic style this book aims for.

What's the story?

High school outcast Charlotte Usher spends her whole summer plotting how to get crush Damen Dylan to notice her. On the first day back, she gets her wish in physics class when he's assigned as her lab partner -- only for her to die minutes later choking on a gummy bear. Attending Dead Ed and living in the dead dorm with other deceased teens do nothing to thwart Charlotte's designs on Damen, however, especially when she learns that a live person, the Goth younger sister of Damen's snotty girlfriend, can actually see and help her. But Charlotte doesn't know how much this help from the living hurts all dead students' chances of finally "seeing the light."

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

With a Goth-chic book design and a popular Web site, GHOSTGIRL definitely puts style and dark humor first, but it's not without substance. Each chapter starts with a pithy paragraph about letting go, love, longing, regret -- heavy stuff. That is, right before it launches into shallow-seeming Charlotte's next clueless misadventure led by her one-track mind: Must get boy, alive or dead. This tunnel vision would get annoying if it weren't for other fun characters, like Piccolo Pam the dead guide, Scarlet the live Goth friend who gives Charlotte a "make-under," and Petula the delightfully unscrupulous sister (who gets hers, of course).

But in the end, Ghostgirl isn't quite as clever as it wants to be. With its mix of satire, deep thoughts, physical humor, and heart-tugging romance, it can seem like too much of a hodge-podge at times. And fans may want more than just a taste of dead teen culture -- there are plenty of unanswered questions about their powers, etc. But it's still lots of fun and the perfect complement to a late-night readathon with The Cure cued up on the iPod.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about Charlotte's one-track mind. Why do you think it was so important to her to be popular and get the guy, even after death? When does her dedication get to be over the top? If you could see Charlotte like Scarlet could, would you change places with her temporarily? If so, what would you do in spirit form?

Book details

Author:Tonya Hurley
Illustrator:Craig Phillips
Genre:Humor
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Little, Brown and Company
Publication date:August 1, 2008
Number of pages:336
Publisher's recommended age(s):12

This review of Ghostgirl was written by

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 14 years old Written byKatie-Kakes September 23, 2009
 

Interesting take on life

i thought that this book was brilliant and really quite interesting. the language in some parts may not be appropriate but most kids should be able to handle it. charlotte learns alot so i think that everyone could learn a thing or two from this book. i loved it.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Kid, 10 years old March 30, 2011
 

Epic!

I love this book! Just got done reading it... Just cried my eyes out because.... Well you have to read the book :P
What other families should know
Great messages
Teen, 15 years old Written byMissMe June 2, 2009
 

THIS BOOK IS KILLER!

I think some people don't get the satire of this book. It is GENIUS! I can not wait for Ghostgirl Homecoming! Ghostgirl is the new Twilight - it's original, hysterical and profound.

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